CFP: Employee Share Option Programs and Employee-Owned Companies in Central and Eastern Europe

Deadline for Submission of Abstracts: 15 December, 2014 

The academic literature on employee share option programs (ESOP) and employee-owned companies (EOC) in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is characterized by at least two omissions. First, there is a remarkable silence about the relationship between EOC and ESOPs in CEE countries—with some exceptions that prove the rule (Mygind 2012)—though ESOP has been widely used as an instrument of mass privatization in several CEE countries and has led to majority employee share ownership (ESO) in a large number of firms (Aghion & Blanchard 1998). This neglect reminds us of the fact that despite close topical, theoretical, and empirical associations, the phenomena of EOC and ESOP have scarcely been discussed together in the academic discourse at all (Dow 2003). Ironically, while the EOC literature stresses some rather negative aspects of the specific employee ownership form, such as the degenerative tendencies and a principally limited viability of EOCs, the ESOP literature mainly propagates the positive aspects of ESO, such as the positive effects on identification with the firm or productivity gains. 
Second, the academic discussion on the role of ESOPs and EOCs in the transformation process in CEE countries is rather disconnected from the long standing discourse about the potentially emancipatory role of ESOPs and EOCs in the Western world (Backhaus 1979). Moreover, there are hardly any references to the previously prominent debate about ‘labor-managed-firms` in either ‘labor-managed’ or ‘mixed’ economies, which had had a very strong theoretical basis in terms of the “Illyrian Firm” (Ward 1958; Vanek 1970; Meade 1972) or the “pure rental firm” (Jensen & Meckling 1979) despite reflecting “some degree of ideological commitment” (Hansmann 1996: 7) during the Cold War. Moreover, the implications of the rather sharp and fast decline of ESO and EOCs in the CEE countries following privatization have not yet been systematically reflected in the Western literature (Kalmi 2003). 
Thus, our current understanding of ESOPs and EOCs in CEE is not only limited by the lack of coherent empirical data, but also by the lack of a connection to the strong theoretical tradition, and by the lack of studies that compare the experiences made in CEE with the experiences made in Western countries. However, if one is interested in developing and experimenting with some alternative forms of organizing, with different forms of material and immaterial employee participation, and with democratic governance structures, the experiences with ESOPs and EOCs in the CEE countries can be analyzed more rigorously, thereby connecting them more strongly with the Western discourse and tradition. 

Against this background, Organizacija aims to publish a Special Issue on ESOP and EOC in CEE. The aims of this Special Issue are (a) to advance our knowledge on the structures and processes at the individual, organizational, and societal levels that are germane to participatory types of organization; (b) to draw lessons from the CEE experiences for the western regions; and (c) to learn about the behavior of participatory types of organization and of individuals in such organizations in different institutional settings. For this purpose, we are looking for theoretical and empirical contributions from economics, history, industrial relations, management studies, political science, and sociology, amongst others.

We welcome both theory-based empirical studies grounded in any methodological tradition (qualitative as well as quantitative), and conceptual contributions that focus on micro, meso or macro levels of analysis. Moreover, we encourage both studies that extend current theories and those questioning or even disconfirming taken-for-granted beliefs about participatory types of organization on theoretical or empirical grounds. Papers may include, but are not limited to, the following topics: 

  • The influence of public discourse about EOCs and matters pertaining to the political legitimacy of privatization on the emergence and development of EOCs
  • Traces of the Illyrian Firm or pure rental firm in a setting of free markets, private ownership, and political democracy
  • Specific country studies and comparative studies on institutional conditions for EOCs in CEE countries and their outcomes with respect to the viability of EOC
  • The influence of specific contexts of corporate governance in CEE countries on the ownership and control of EOCs
  • The influence of industrial relations in the CEE context on the viability of EOCs in CEE and the influence of EOCs on industrial relations practices
  • Efficiency and effectiveness of EOCs in CEE
  • The influence of different (countries’) experiences with worker’s self-management on the viability of EOCs after privatization
  • Comparative case-studies about the emergence of EOC during privatization and their development depending on institutional context, participatory culture, experiences with worker’s self-management and individual ownership rights
  • Transfer of EOC & ESOP models from West to East and vice versa; adaptation of models and learning barriers between East and West
  • Comparative studies about EOC as a privatization instrument in East and West
  • History, development, distribution, and outcomes of ESOP in CEE
  • The impact of ESOP on the viability of EOCs in CEE 


The following deadlines have to be observed: 

  • 15th December 2014: Submission of abstracts (maximum 1000 words) to the guest editors (
  • 31st January 2015: Invitations to submit full papers sent out 
  • 31st May 2015: Submission of full papers (according to the journal’s guidelines, maximum 8000 words) 
  • 30th September 2015: Feedback to authors 
  • 31st December 2015: Submission of full papers with revisions 
  • 2016: Journal volume to be published 

Any further questions may be addressed to the guest editors: 
Thomas Steger / Olaf Kranz 
Department of Leadership and Organization 
University of Regensburg