Profit sharing

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Profit sharing is various incentive plans introduced by businesses that provide direct or indirect payments to employees that depend on company's profitability in addition to employees' regular salary and bonuses. In publicly traded companies these plans typically amount to allocation of shares to employees.

The profit sharing plans are based on predetermined economic sharing rules that define the split of gains between the company as a principal and the employee as an agent.[1] For example, suppose the profits are , which might be a random variable.[1] Before knowing the profits, the principal and agent might agree on a sharing rule .[1] Here, the agent will receive and the principal will receive the residual gain .[1]

Profit-sharing tends to lead to less conflict and more cooperation between labor and their employers.[2][3]


Profit sharing has been common among traditional fishing communities in Indonesia.[4] In the West it was introduced by American politician Albert Gallatin on his glass works in the 1790s, but the modern type of profit-sharing plans was developed later in the 19th century.[5] William Cooper Procter established a profit-sharing plan in Procter & Gamble in 1887.[6] Another of early pioneers of profit sharing was English politician Theodore Taylor, who is known to have introduced the practice in his woollen mills during the late 1800s.[7]


Management's share of profits[edit]

The share of profits paid to the management or to the board of directors is sometimes called the tantième.[citation needed] This French term is generally applied in describing the business and finance practices of certain European countries, including Germany, France, Belgium, and Sweden. It is usually paid in addition to the manager's (or director's) fixed salary and bonuses (bonuses usually depend on profits as well, and often bonuses and tantieme are treated as the same thing); laws vary from country to country.

United States[edit]

In the United States, a profit sharing plan can be set up where all or some of the employee's profit sharing amount can be contributed to a retirement plan. These are often used in conjunction with 401(k) plans.


Gainsharing is a program that returns cost savings to the employees, usually as a lump-sum bonus. It is a productivity measure, as opposed to profit-sharing which is a profitability measure. There are three major types of gainsharing:

  • Scanlon plan: This program dates back to the 1930s and relies on committees to create cost-sharing ideas. Designed to lower labor costs without lowering the level of a firm's activity. The incentives are derived as a function of the ratio between labor costs and sales value of production (SVOP).
  • Rucker plan: This plan also uses committees, but although the committee structure is simpler the cost-saving calculations are more complex.[8] A ratio is calculated that expresses the value of production required for each dollar of total wage bill.
  • Improshare: Improshare stands for "Improved productivity through sharing" and is a more recent development. With this plan, a standard is developed that identifies the expected number of hours to produce something, and any savings between this standard and actual production are shared between the company and the workers.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Moffatt, Mike. (2008) Sharing Rule Economics Glossary; Terms Beginning with S. Accessed June 19, 2008.
  2. ^ Dean, Adam (2015). "The Gilded Wage: Profit-Sharing Institutions and the Political Economy of Trade". International Studies Quarterly. 59 (2): 316–329. doi:10.1111/isqu.12200. ISSN 0020-8833.
  3. ^ Dean, Adam (2016). From Conflict to Coalition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-16880-0.
  4. ^ Mangiwa, M. Christian (August 2019). "Fairness in Profit Sharing of Business in Capture Fisheries in Muslim Community at South Sulawesi". Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Accounting, Management and Economics 2018 (ICAME 2018). Atlantis Press. pp. 527–534. doi:10.2991/icame-18.2019.54. ISBN 978-94-6252-786-7. S2CID 204492847.
  5. ^[bare URL]
  6. ^ William Cooper Procter at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ "Obituary - Mr Theodore Taylor, a Pioneer of Profit Sharing". The Times. 21 October 1952.
  8. ^ Rucker, A. W. et al., Re: "Management's Attitude toward Wage Incentive Systems", ILR Review, Vol. 5, No. 3 (April 1952), pp. 422-425, accessed 29 March 2023
  9. ^ Gomez-Mejia, Luis R.; Balkin, David B. (2007), Managing Human Resources (Fifth ed.), Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 978-0-13-187067-3

External links[edit]