This resource uses diagrams to depict how the different forms of employee ownership are structured. It focuses on the two primary vehicles for broad-based employee ownership in the United States: worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership plans.
The idea of selling a business to its employees and converting it to a worker owned cooperative is gaining traction as a viable succession strategy. It is a strategy that saves jobs, builds community wealth, and empowers workers to own and manage their own business. Worker cooperatives differ from other business entity types in that they are owned and democratically controlled by their workers, and workers share in the risk and reward of operating the business.
This research paper summarizes an examination of the National Establishment Time Series (NETS) dataset for North Carolina and Iowa to gauge the potential for conversions of existing businesses to worker cooperatives. The data demonstrate that the potential is quite large, and that even if only a fraction of these successfully converted to worker ownership and continued to operate at their last year levels, there would be meaningful economic impacts.
Becoming Employee-Owned is a guide for business owners interested in employee ownership. It provides an overview of the three primary transition approaches for employee ownership: worker cooperatives, ESOPs, and management buy-outs. Regardless of what stage the business is in--from expansion to succession planning-- this resource can help business owners understand their options for becoming an employee-owned company.
Before a cooperative transition process can get started, the selling owner needs to make some decisions about how to structure the process, specifically she needs to clearly define who has decision-making power in the process: herself, the transition committee, the likely coop members, and the whole group. This chart outlines who decides what.
Gant chart outlining the phases a business goes through during transition to a cooperative.