Employee and Citizen Ownership of Business Capital in the Age of AI Robots

  • Richard B. FreemanEmail author
Part of the Management-Reihe Corporate Social Responsibility book series (MRCOSORE)


This paper seeks to convince you that the best response to the coming dominance of AI robots in the world of work is to expand both employee ownership of firms and citizen ownership of business capital more broadly. Section 1 analyzes the likely effects of advances in AI robot technologies on the comparative advantage of machines versus humans in high-value-added work and the consequences for wages and salaries and income inequality. Section 2 argues that the best way to assure that living standards increase for all in the age of AI robots is through enhanced employee ownership and greater citizens’ stake in business capital, distributing capital income far more widely than today.


  1. Blasi JR, Richard BF, Kruse DL (2016) Do broad-based employee ownership, profit sharing and stock options help the best firms do even better? Br J Ind Relations 1:55–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dockrill P (2017) In Just 4 hours, Google’s AI mastered all the chess knowledge in history. Science Alert. Accessed 4 June 2018Google Scholar
  3. Freeman RB (2017) Work and income in the age of AI robots. Hong Kong University of Science & Technology/Ernst-Young Seminar, 16.05.Google Scholar
  4. Grace K, Salvatier J, Dafoe A, Zhang B, Evans O (2017) When will AI exceed human performance? Evidence from AI experts, available at: arXiv:1705.08807 [cs.AI]Google Scholar
  5. Kruse DL, Richard BF, Blasi JR (2010) Shared capitalism at work. University of Chicago Press for NBER, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kurtulus FA, Kruse DL (2017) How did employee ownership firms weather the last two recessions?: Employee ownership, employment stability, and firm survival in the United States: 1999–2011. W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Kalamazoo Scholar
  7. Mishel L, Bivens J (2017) The zombie robot argument lurches on: There is no evidence that automation leads to joblessness or inequality. Economic Policy Institute May 24 (Washington, DC). Accessed 4 June 2018Google Scholar
  8. Moravčík M, Schmid M, Burch N, Lisý V, Morrill D, Bard N, Davis T, Waugh K, Johanson M, Bowling M (2017) DeepStack: Expert-level artificial intelligence in heads-up no-limit poker. Science 356(6337):508–513 (available at: (accessed 4 June 2018))CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. O’Boyle EH, Patel PC, Gonzalez-Mulé E (2016) Employee ownership and firm performance: A meta-analysis. Hum Resour Manag J 26(4):425–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Oxera (2007) Tax-advantaged employee share schemes: Analysis of productivity effects. HM revenue and customs, research report no. 33. Accessed 4 June 2018Google Scholar
  11. Rosenthal SM, Austin LS (2016) The dwindling taxable share of U.S. corporate stock. Tax notes, May 16. Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute & Brookings Institution, 16 May. Accessed 4 June 2018Google Scholar
  12. Solon O (2017) Oh the humanity! Poker computer trounces humans in big step for AI. The Guardian, January 30. Accessed 4 June 2018Google Scholar
  13. Wikipedia (2018a) AlphaGo. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 4 June 2018
  14. Wikipedia (2018b) Neuralink. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed 4 June 2018
  15. Yu A (2016) Behold a robot hand with a soft touch. NPR all tech considered, December 11. Accessed 4 June 2018

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Bureau of Economic ResearchCambridge MAUSA

Personalised recommendations