Leadership During the Transition to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)
Leadership During the Transition to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)
Michael James Sieniarecki
Program of study:
The purpose of the qualitative case study was to explore the role of leadership during the transition to a wholly employee-owned company of less than 200 members, based in Broadview, Illinois. The study population consisted of all employee owners of the exemplar company. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 volunteer participants. Interview data were triangulated with archival data and field notes for the analysis. The results of the study conclude change management during the transition to an ESOP was not used as expected since the desire of the CEO and leaders in the exemplar company was to keep the same family culture, not change it. While the organizational structure changed from privately owned to employee owned, the goal was to maintain the leadership values and corporate culture during the transition to an ESOP. By referencing all employees as the fourth generation owners, executive leaders, mid-level managers, and front-line workers accepted the ESOP as a gift of love from the CEO and embraced the ESOP as employee owners. The employee owners’ long-term employment previous to the ESOP transition was a prelude to harnessing their new ownership and taking on the responsibility of upholding the family legacy as fourth generation owners. Preserving the leadership values and corporate culture was supported by a tenured and strong family culture, reinforced ESOP communication from leaders, and leadership integrity throughout the transition process.
The most fundamental reason for having the privilege of writing a dedication section for my doctoral dissertation is because of my mother’s continuous love and support throughout my life and especially during this life-changing journey. My Mother always supported me unconditionally during my strides and my challenges, and trust me, the peaks and valleys have been turbulent for both of us at times. I simply could not have survived the rigor of this major academic undertaking without her continuous love and support. My Mother is an amazing person who is loved by so many, and her amazingness was demonstrated through the years as she reinforced my desires to learn, grow, build a professional career, reach my academic goals, and create a positive meaningful life for myself. Without her, I would have most certainly lost my way long ago and possibly never had the opportunity to accomplish this level of academic and personal growth. Earning a doctorate is a huge obligation, and it is also a huge accomplishment that does not end when the Dean’s office signs the final dissertation. This achievement can never be taken away from a graduate, and the legacy of the work remains connected to the student long after they pass. My hope is the value of my dissertation work serves other scholars, practitioners, and leaders for years to come and that my doctoral legacy not only survives me, but also continues to represent a remarkable woman with a genuine servant’s heart who, against the odds, raised a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership all by herself. Mother, thank you from the bottom of my heart; you are the true leader here! This body of work is dedicated to you and your amazing leadership.
Writing a doctoral dissertation takes more than just the student to accomplish the task, and I would like to acknowledge several people who were instrumental in helping me reach my goal. Internal Support Network: My Dissertation Committee From a genuine personal level and a strong academic perspective, I want to acknowledge my Dissertation Committee Chair, Dr. Deborah Potter for her belief in me as a person first and scholar second. The first time I met Dr. Deb, she said to me, “Learn how to walk in the shadows of the giants before you!” And I did. This seemingly small initial bit of advice truly helped me stay focused and rationalize with the challenges introduced to me during this journey. A lot of shadows exist during a project like this, and it can get pretty spooky if you are in the dark all alone. However, her spirit for personal mentorship and dedication to the academic process was my guiding light. Dr. Deb, I sincerely thank you for believing in me especially during the dark and challenging times. I simply could not have completed the work during this journey without you. Thank you to both of my committee members Dr. Folino and Dr. Furtwengler who helped me stay focused on the process and keep my work on track. Dr. Folino should be known as “Dr. APA” who always kept me true to the writing discipline and Dr. Furtwengler always offered strong business and leadership perspective, which was so important to maintaining critical dissertation alignment during the process. Their suggestive approaches and meticulous feedback helped me refine my work and deliver a polished doctoral dissertation that we can all be proud of. Thank you both for your influential support and contributions to my success. EXEMPLAR COMPANY: CEO AND VOLUNTEER PARTICIPANTS I want to acknowledge the CEO of the exemplar company for hosting me during my three-day onsite data collection visit and introducing me to her extended business family. Meeting the fourth generation owners of her business was an honor, and I gained an entirely new perspective of family-centric business leadership and commitment to employees. Thank you so much for allowing me to do my dissertation research at your business and learn the legacy of your father and grandfather. You provided an experience I will never forget and will cherish forever. Twelve volunteer participants took time out of their busy work schedules to interview with me. I appreciate their desire to help and willingness to participate in the research. Each interview was critical to the results, and all of them helped construct new data to further understand the role of leadership during the transition to an ESOP. Thank you to each of the 12 volunteer participants for your participation. External Support Network: Friends and Family The bottom line is without the support of friends and family, nothing else matters. Writing a doctoral dissertation is no different; however, there are far too many to name individually. You know who you are. I was fortunate enough to have great friends and family support network through the years. I am convinced their belief in me is what kept me going the distance; it fueled my own perseverance. The early mornings, the late nights, the disappointing messages that, “I can’t go out this weekend,” and my determination to stay focused was all powered by their relentless support of me. To my dearest friends and family who have been with me from the beginning to the new ones who came in during the process, thank you all for helping me reach this level of achievement. My success is due in part to your continuous encouragement, reassurance, and motivation while I focused on each chapter of my dissertation, and while I wrote this amazing chapter of my life that you will always be a part of. Thank you. To my beautiful and compassionate fiancé, my partner in life who probably never knew what she was getting into when I mentioned I was in the middle of earning my doctorate. The long nights away from her spent researching, writing, and rewriting blended with building a new life together presented new and unusual challenges to our relationship, but she ALWAYS made an effort to understand, and she always supported me regardless of my challenge. Babe, thank you for always reminding me I was making the right decision and for your votes of confidence when I needed it most. Your devotion to me and to our partnership has shown me a whole new level of love and dedication I never knew before. I’m so thankful to have you by my side, and have found a new appreciation for the power of love as one united team. I look forward to many more journeys with you and tackling each chapter of our lives together. I love you, and I’m so thankful and so proud to have you in my life. Thank you.