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The Employee Ownership Update

Corey Rosen

January 7, 1999

(Corey Rosen)

Employee Ownership Companies Top Best 100 Companies to Work For

Companies with broad-based stock option plans, ESOPs, or other employee ownership arrangements accounted for 47 of the "Best 100 Companies in America to Work For," up from 31 last year. The list is published each year in Fortune (1/11/99; also available at at their Web site). Winners are selected from 1,000 large and mid-sized companies by the Great Place to Work Institute and Hewitt Associates based on employee surveys.

Companies giving broad-based stock options were Synovus Financial(#1 on the list), PeopleSoft (6), Hewlett-Packard (10), Finova (12), First Tennessee Bank (14), Cisco (24), UNUM (25), Microsoft (27), Great Plains Software (30), Guidant (31), Odetics (34), Autodesk (35), CDW (36), Valassis Communications (37), Capital One (41), Marriott International (44), QUALCOMM (47), Whole Foods (48), Intel (49), Compuware (51), Amgen (53), Starbucks (55), Genentech (56), Computer Associates (59), Lucent Technologies (62), Sun Microsystems (63), Enron (73), Arrow Electronics (74), Quantum (82), Cerner (85), Union Pacific Resources (88), Applied Materials (92), 3Com (95), Baldor Electric (97), and Nordstrom (98).

Majority-employee owned companies, through ESOPs or other mechanisms, include TDI (2), Edward Jones (11), Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (54), Publix Supermarkets (78), and ACIPCO (81). Companies with minority ESOPs or similar plans owning at least 15% of the company included Southwest Airlines (4), A.G. Edwards (18), W.L. Gore Associates (20), Merrill Lynch (71), Herman Miller (87), and Quad/Graphics (93). Finally, Wal-Mart (66) has a broad-based stock purchase plan that has made many of its associates millionaires.

New Research on Patterns on ESOP Adoption

New research by Stephen Smela at the University of Minnesota shows that companies in the West North Central U.S. (basically, states in the Western Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains area) are somewhat more likely to adopt ESOPs than other areas, while a mid-Atlantic state location lowers the likelihood of adoption. Industry makes little difference, except for agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and services, although the differences are small for the latter two categories. High levels of unionization in an industry are related to lower adoption rates, as are high levels of work force fluctuation. Companies with high fluctuations in output, however, are more likely to have plans.

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