The role of employee share ownership for corporate governance\ud in the aftermath of the financial crisis – a closer look at the\ud Central Eastern European EU Member States
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Following a 2010 initiative opinion by the European Economic and Social\ud Committee and a 2012 study on employee financial participation (EFP)\ud commissioned by the European Parliament, in December 2012 the European\ud Commission included the promotion of employee share ownership\ud (ESO) in its Action Plan to reform European company law and corporate\ud governance (European Commission, COM/2012/0740). This marks an extension\ud in the perception of the issue of EFP in general and ESO in particular\ud as a policy area that in the 1990ies had been seen predominantly as\ud related to social policy.\ud As the link between better corporate governance and ESO is complex it\ud is worthwhile to review the main arguments and findings. As will be\ud shown, ESO is directly relevant to all three areas for action identified in\ud the Action Plan, i.e., transparency, responsibility and competitiveness.\ud These related issues, i.e., information sharing, long-term shareholding\ud and participation in decision-making are interlinked and elevate the status\ud of employees; they are workers but also shareholders and stakeholders\ud who can play an active role in corporate governance. Such employee\ud shareholding is a kind of long-term investment that may help to stabilise\ud capital markets, a welcome contrast to the destabilising effect of speculative\ud short-term investment.\ud Against this background we investigate the dynamics of ESO in the\ud Central Eastern European (CEE) countries over the last decade. Particular attention is given to the difference in evolution of ESO in the CEE countries\ud – as opposed to that in the old EU Member States. Finally, lessons for\ud the support of sustainable employee ownership are drawn from the cases\ud of Poland, Hungary and Lithuania.\ud 1 Jens Lowitzsch (corresponding author): Kelso Professor of Comparative Law, East\ud European Business Law and European Legal Policy, European University Viadrina,\ud Frankfurt (Oder), Germany; Iraj Hashi: Professor of Economics, Staffordshire University,\ud Stoke on Trent, United Kingdom; Alban Hashani: Senior Researcher, Riinvest\ud Institute for Development Research, Prishtina, Kosovo.
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