The White Rose Employee Ownership Centre (WREOC)

The primary aim is to establish the White Rose universities as the leading centre for employee ownership research in the UK. Employee ownership has been a persistently vibrant area of scholarship over many years in the social sciences in the UK, USA, and beyond. Some of the most respected UK scholars in this area are located in various disciplines across the White Rose universities, but work mainly independently of each other. A key objective is to encourage closer collaboration between these scholars (both across locations and disciplines). A further collaboration, with policy makers and employee ownership practitioners will engage them directly in the formulation of research questions, and the development and use of research. These collaborations will help to define new research agendas, promote innovative cross-disciplinary research projects, facilitate funding applications, and help generate highly applicable research.  

The rationale for creating this Centre at this time rests on several contextual factors. A general backdrop is the continuing economic crisis and widespread interest in alternative forms of ownership and organisation. More specific factors include the widespread adoption of employee ownership in the current UK privatisation of public services, the increase in private sector employee ownership, and the Government’s policy of encouraging conversions to employee ownership. The Government recently announced its intention of creating a National Institute of Employee Ownership to inter alia conduct research into this form of ownership. 

The proposed activities centre on bringing together academic specialists on employee ownership from a variety of disciplines, involving collaboration with policy-makers, practitioners from companies, and professional services personnel. This will facilitate the development of university-industry research clusters, innovative research agendas, and project teams for funding applications. . The activities will include 

  • Researcher-practitioner-policymaker events: In York, Leeds and Sheffield, the latter to coincide with Social Science Week. The focus of the events will differ, with the opening event beginning to develop the research agenda, including consideration of the impact of employee ownership on customer behaviour, and career choice … and the Sheffield event focusing on public service mutuals. York will also host the first screening in England of film ‘We are the Owners’, made by Beyster Foundation, California.
  • National conference: Theory and Practice of Employee Ownership, aimed at academics and practitioners over 1.5 days.  Will involve innovative workshops aimed at integrating academic and practitioner perspectives on key issues.  Target audience of @100.  around Easter 2014, probably in York
  • Publication of Employee Ownership in YorkshireResearch into the scale and form of employee ownership in Yorkshire region, drawing on research expertise of the three centres, with publication on-line and in a pamphlet aimed at a wide audience. Possibly taking the survey further to provide national data.
  • White Rose Papers in Employee Ownership.  Creation of a branded on-line working paper series within the White Rose repository for dissemination of early research findings.
  • White Rose Centre web page.  Creation of web portal, hosted on the York web-site with links to each of the partners.  

The Centre is initially funded for one year from March 2013

Professors, Andrew Pendleton, University of York, Andrew Robinson, University of Leeds, Virginie Perotin, University of Leeds, and Peter Marsh, University of Sheffield