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What is Justice-Based Management?

Justice-Based ManagementSM (JBMSM) is a leadership philosophy and management system that applies universal principles of economic and social justice within business organizations. The ultimate purpose of JBM is to create and sustain ownership cultures that enhance the dignity and development of every member of the company, and to economically empower each person as an owner and worker.

JBM promotes a company’s long-term profitability within the global marketplace by enabling all worker-owners to serve and provide higher value to the customer. JBM connects every worker’s self-interest to the bottom-line and long-term success of the company.

The JBMSM process builds upon a written articulation of the universal principles and core values of the company, generally starting with an expression by the leader and leadership core group. Through a participatory, iterative process, the statement of core values and code of ethics evolves in stages by consensus, allowing the fundamental values and vision of the company to be “owned” by every member of the company.

These articulated values provide the foundation for enhancing the productiveness of workers and company profitability through such structures as employee-monitored economic incentive programs, participatory management and governance structures, two-way communications and accountability systems, conflict management systems and future planning and renewal programs.

The ESOP and Justice-Based Management

One of the main components of Justice-Based Management is the “JBMSM ESOP .” While the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) was originally invented as a means for providing working people with access to capital credit to become owners of corporate equity, most ESOPs are set up as just another employee benefit plan or tax gimmick, or as an employee share accumulation plan (“ESAP”). Most ESOPs today are not designed to treat worker-owners as first-class shareholders. The “JBMSM ESOP,” on the other hand, is designed to encourage workers to assume the responsibilities and risks, as well as the full rights, rewards and powers, of co-ownership.

Furthermore, all academic and government studies to date have concluded that ESOPs alone are not enough to affect individual and corporate performance. Within a JBMSM system, the ESOP, in combination with a regular gainsharing program tied to bottom-line profits, and structured systems of participatory management and governance, stimulates everyone in the company to think and act like entrepreneurs and owners.

Balancing Moral Values and Market Value

Justice-Based Management offers an ethical framework for succeeding in business. JBM balances moral values (treating people with fairness and dignity) with market value (increasing a company’s competitiveness, productiveness and profits by creating equal ownership opportunity and giving all members of the enterprise a personal stake in the bottom line). JBM’s three basic operating principles are:

  1. Build the organization on shared ethical values — starting with respect for the dignity and worth of each person (employee, customer and supplier) — that promote the development and empowerment of every member of the group.
  2. Succeed in the marketplace by delivering maximum value (higher quality at lower prices) to the customer.
  3. Reward people commensurate with the value they contribute to the company — as individuals and as a team.

Justice-Based ManagementSM is guided by the concept of social justice, as articulated by the late social philosopher William Ferree, Ph.D., S.M. Social justice involves the structuring of social organizations or institutions (including business corporations) to promote and develop the full potential of every member.

JBM also embeds within an ownership culture the three principles of economic justice defined by the late lawyer-economist Louis Kelso and philosopher Mortimer Adler: (1) “participative justice,” or the right to the means and opportunity to participate in the economic process as an owner as well as a worker; (2) “distributive justice,” or the right to the full, market-determined stream of income from one’s labor and capital contributions; and (3) “social justice,” or the right and responsibility of each person to work in an organized way with others to correct the “social order” or institution when the principles of participative or distributive justice are being violated or blocked.

Within JBM the principles of social and economic justice provide a logical framework for defining “fairness” and structuring the diffusion of power within the corporation.

Structuring Ownership Participation

JBMSM is designed to systematize and institutionalize shared rights, responsibilities, risks and rewards within all company operational and governance structures involving:

  • Corporate values and vision
  • Leadership development and succession
  • Corporate governance
  • Future planning
  • Operations (policies and procedures) and hardship sharing policies
  • Communications and information sharing
  • Training and education
  • Pay and rewards
  • Grievances and adjudication

A well-designed Justice-Based Management system sharpens and crystallizes the leader’s philosophy around “universal” principles, providing a solid foundation for a corporate culture that enables people to internalize these guiding principles. JBM generates organizational synergy by connecting each worker-owner to the risks, rewards, rights and responsibilities of co-ownership. It offers design principles for participative management systems, and defines each owner’s share of power in the governance of the organization. This in turn enables people to make better decisions, discipline their own behavior, and work together more effectively and cooperatively — because it is truly in their self-interest to do so.


“Justice-Based Management: A Framework for Equity and Efficiency in the Workplace” [pp. 189-210 in Curing World Poverty: The New Role of Property. [Originally titled, “Value-Based Management: A Framework for Equity and Efficiency in the Workplace.”]

“Beyond Privatization: An Egyptian Model for Democratizing Capital Credit for Workers” [pp. 247-258 in Curing World Poverty: The New Role of Property ]

Journey to an Ownership Culture: Insights from the ESOP Community, ed. Dawn Kurland Brohawn, published by Scarecrow Press and The ESOP Association, 1997. Available from CESJ, $35.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling (in U.S.).

“Theory O.” Available from National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), Phone: 510-208-1300  Email:

Justice-Based ManagementSM is a service mark of Equity Expansion International, Inc. For more information on Justice-Based ManagementSM and building an ownership culture, contact Equity Expansion International, Inc. at P.O. Box 40711, Washington, D.C. 20016, (Tel) 703-243-5155, (Fax) 703-243-5935, (Eml), (Web)