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Employee ownership and the drive to do business responsibly: A study of the John Lewis Partnership

Storey, John and Salaman, Graeme (2017). Employee ownership and the drive to do business responsibly: A study of the John Lewis Partnership. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 33(2) pp. 339–354.

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As a means towards revealing both the strategic and the day to day operational practicalities of managing a ‘responsible business’, this paper reports on research conducted over an extended period in the John Lewis Partnership (JLP). This is a major retail organization based in the UK which operates at scale (90,000 employees and annual sales of £11bn). It has sustained itself as an employee-owned enterprise for nearly a century, and it makes explicit claims to conduct itself in a ‘responsible manner’ which differs markedly from the notions of responsibility maintained by many conventional businesses. But what do these commitments mean in practice and what compromises, if any, do they entail or require, and crucially how are these tensions managed? We find that there are many lessons that conventional organizations could learn from this case, and yet we also show that the process of managing in this responsible way is a practical accomplishment that requires considerable conceptual and applied skills.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Author
ISSN: 1460-2121
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
‘A Better Way of Doing Business? Lessons from the John Lewis Partnership’ES/K000748/1ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Keywords: responsible business; employee ownership; business ethics
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 48119
Depositing User: John Storey
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 02 May 2019 11:27
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