Relational Investing: The Worker's Perspective

Edward P. Lazear, Richard B. Freeman

NBER Working Paper No. 5436
Issued in January 1996
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

Workers who hold a firm's stock make decisions other than those that pure capital owners would make, but there exist institutions and compensation packages that will generally lead workers to favor efficient firm decisions. Workers care about their firm-specific rents and may seek shares in their firm to use them to protect those rents. Their views toward firm decisions will differ depending on their firm-specific human capital and tenure in the firm. The workers most favorable to efficient firm decisions are the very young and very old, who have the least amount to lose in employment rent and those with larger shares of ownership. An appropriate severance pay policy will induce workers to choose efficient outcomes even if it calls for their own layoffs. Single company based defined contribution pension funds, which hold shares in their own firm, are likely to tilt worker- owners to favor efficient decisions when layoffs and other changes are modest, but not when the changes are huge. Pension funds are more likely to buy up shares and successfully change behavior in small firms, in firms that are highly levered, and when the investment community has diverse views on the benefit from changing a firm's current irresponsible policies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5436

Published: Gilson, Ronald, John C. Coffee, and Louis Lowenstein (eds.) Meaningful Relationships: Institutional Investors, Relational Investing, and the Future of Corporate Governance? NY: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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