Steven F. Freeman

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Update Curriculum Library on Employee Ownership (CLEO) Database

Employee Ownership Comprehensive Bibliographies and Database Update Project

Part I: Update Curriculum Library on Employee Ownership (CLEO) Database

page last modified: 10/11/2011 01:25 PM

Background: The Curriculum Library on Employee Ownership (CLEO) is designed to serve as “The Internet Home for Teaching about Employee Ownership.” As of June 1, 2011, the database had 482 records. Inclusion of materials in CLEO, however, has not been systematic. Materials had been added mostly by those who use the database, i.e. those presently teaching employee-ownership-related courses, and consists largely of cases authored by these teachers. Most key works on employee-ownership were not among these 482 records.

Project Purpose: Ensure inclusion in CLEO of seminal employee ownership works and other important employee ownership research. The Foundation for Enterprise Development (FED) has agreed to sponsor immediate inclusion of up to 60 articles, and will add others as time and resources permit.

Notable Employee Ownership Work to Include

  • Seminal works: influential, original pieces that constitute or provide a basis for further development. They may or may not be research per se (e.g., The capitalist manifesto [1])
  • Important research consists of scholarship which has advanced our knowledge or understanding of employee ownership.
  • Other books or articles either bring together and summarize important findings or communicates to broader audiences some aspect of employee ownership.
  • Related scholarship is work not principally about employee ownership, but nevertheless important to understanding employee ownership or its value, e.g., The Myth of the Disposable Worker [2]

Method: To ensure comprehensive inclusion of notable work on employee ownership and other forms of shared capitalism, I’ve drawn on several sources – my own literature review of employee ownership research, “Effects of ESOP Adoption and Employee Ownership[3] the ISI Citation Index, Google Scholar, Amazon books and WorldCat rankings.

Freeman (2007): In my review of research and scholarship on employee ownership, I looked at a wide range of work to attempt to determine:

  • What do we really know about employee ownership?,
  • Based on what we know, What are the benefits and costs to employees, the firms themselves and society at large? 
  • What should we be striving to learn about employee ownership?,

The paper has 96 total references, of which only seven (7) were already included in CLEO. Seven of the remaining 89 had to do with methodology or were weak scholarship included only so as to dismiss them. That left 82 references, of which I identified 40 for immediate inclusion, and 42 for subsequent inclusion as time and resources permit.


Table 1: Additions to CLEO



Already in CLEO


Not yet in


immediate inclusion

subsequent inclusion

Freeman (2010)








ISI Citation Index








Google Scholar

























The (ISI) Web of Knowledge Citation Index is a comprehensive index of articles from peer-reviewed scholarly journals. It includes a complete listing of the references cited by a particular article and a list of works that have cited that article. Although it includes only peer-reviewed journal articles and suffers from some academic gamesmanship, citation counts serve as a proxy for how influential a work is within the scholarly/scientific community. A June 15, 2011 ISI search of the topic "employee ownership" or ESOP yields a total of 273 articles. Here are the top ten. For the CLEO database we want important or influential works. To determine which works specifically to include, I consider the citation counts in several ways.

  1. Total cites indicates influence over time.
  2. Average annual cites puts newer articles on a more even footing with older ones.
  3. Citations over the past 2 years and past 4 years. Educators may also want to see newer articles, especially those that seem to be currently influential, so I’ve also counted recent cites more heavily cites as indicators of currently relevant and influential work.

To create a total Current Influence Index (CCI),I sum these indicators using the following formula: 

CCI = Total cites + (Average annual cites * 10) + cites since 2008 + cites since 2010    

First, I ranked all the ISI articles according to this index. I’ve set the recommended bar for inclusion in the CLEO database rather low at 21. This includes any article with 15 or more overall cites, average annual cites greater than 1 and/or several recent cites – a total of 46 articles. I might have set it higher, but as it turns out all the articles with indices between 21 and 25 are articles with which I am familiar and which I believe are notable either for the quality of the work, the specific findings or the areas in which the work was conducted.

Then, I created a list of the top ranked 46 sorted by author name so that I could cross-reference with our other databases. Surprisingly, only 2 of the 46 most cited articles are already in the CLEO database – and those two barely made the list. An additional 12 are also included in the Freeman 2010 citations to add to CLEO (more of these works ought to be included in my revision). This leaves 32 new articles to include in CLEO (in addition to the 67 to be added from Freeman 2010).


Google Scholar is a less precise but more comprehensive database than ISI – more comprehensive because it includes books and non-peer reviewed articles. Like ISI, Google Scholar relies on citation counts, but unlike ISI, it also takes into consideration other factors such as links that may account for influence beyond the narrow scientific community.

Google Scholar, however, is also a haphazard system. It may include highly biased work, work based on ungrounded assertions and/or assertions that are just plain wrong. Also the database is filled with errors of all types. Despite the concerns,these google scholar rankings serve as the best available proxy for use in the larger world of practitioners and policy-makers.

I’ve taken the first three pages of Google Scholar “employee ownership” search finds, which provides 31 references (Worksheet 4.1). Searches rarely go beyond the first three pages,[4] so anything of central importance ought to appear here.

To this list of 31, I included (only) three additional items from my Google Scholar “ESOP” search, Worksheet 4.2. The other items on the first page of the Google Scholar “ESOP” search consisted of items already identified in the “employee ownership” search or non-relevant ESOP articles, i.e., those pertaining to applied math or computer science ESOP functions. I didn’t look beyond the first page because those three seemed to have considerably less influence than even the third page of   “employee ownership” listings as indicated by total cites – 33, 36 and 44 – as compared to the counts ranging from a low of 44 to a high of over 200 for the “employee ownership” listings.

So all told our Google scholar search yielded a total of 34 influential works sorted by author in Worksheet 4.3. Six (6) of these are already in CLEO. An additional 18 have already been identified in Freeman2010 and/or ISI, leaving 10 additional items to be added.


Amazon books: Of the 34 works identified as most important from the Google Scholar search, only six were books (including several borderline items added because they were books).

Amazon’s database lists 1,350 books that are at least tangentially about "employee ownership.” Given this number and that we only have been able to identify 6 (out of 82 total works) through ISI and Google Scholar, I decided to supplement to searches with three book searches. Amazon provides three useful sorting systems to identify notable books: Relevance, Sales and Customer Rating.

I have been unable to ascertain how Amazon determines and ranks relevance, but its list of twelve most relevant books seems a good one:


Other sources considered but not used: I would have liked to use discipline-based databases of scholarly work such as PsycINFO, Sociological abstracts, or Economic literature, but did not because although they are comprehensive, they offer no guidance on the relative value of listed sources, i.e., no citation counts or influence rankings.

Possible future sources


Employee Ownership Research Main Page


Web City Pages