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Bagehot

Theresa May v Britain’s managers

特蕾莎·梅向英国企业的管理者们下手

The country’s problem is not that it has too many fat cats but that it has too few good bosses

这个国家目前面临问题,不是有钱人太多,而是有能力的管理者太少



Aug 31st 2017  

2017年8月31日

IN HER barnstorming speech to announce her candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party, delivered in Birmingham on July 11th 2016, Theresa May promised nothing less than to fix capitalism. The gap between workers’ and bosses’ pay was “irrational, unhealthy and growing”, she said. Managers were rigging the system so that they were unaccountable to all but themselves and their doppelgängers. British productivity was dismal. Mrs May said she had heard, in the Brexit vote, a cry for reform. She invoked a long line of Tory leaders, from Robert Peel to Margaret Thatcher, who had taken on the powerful in the name of the people, and suggested that she was considering radical measures, from putting workers on boards to tightening takeover rules.

时光回到2016年7月11日的伯明翰,在她宣布竞选保守党党魁的巡回演说中,特蕾莎·梅曾承诺,当务之急是要解决资本主义存在的顽疾,她的原话是:“员工和企业所有者的收入差距过大,这种现象是”不合理、不道德的,而且有愈演愈烈的趋势。一直以来,管理者们通过钻制度空子,使得自己和自己的代言人能对收入不平等这一现象置身事外,使得英国的生产力持续低迷。” 梅姨还说道,她从脱欧公投中听到了变革的呼声,在演说中,她引用了一长串保守党领导人的名号,从保守党的创建者罗伯特·皮尔爵士,到新保守主义的代表者撒切尔夫人,无例外这些人都是以代表人民的名义上台执政。她还声称她会考虑采取一些根本措施,包括使更多的员工能被提名进入管理层,以及出台更严谨的企业管理规定等

Thirteen tumultuous months later Mrs May has finally got around to addressing Britain’s “irrational” and “unhealthy” pay gap. Listed companies will publish the ratio of bosses’ pay to average workers’ pay, the government declares. Remuneration committees will consider the wages of ordinary workers when they set executives’ salaries. Companies will have to nominate a director for the workforce or create an employees’ advisory council. Firms that suffer a shareholder rebellion of more than 20% when setting executives’ pay will have their names entered in a shaming public register.

在经历了鸡飞狗跳般的十三个月后,梅姨终于能抽出时间来着手处理她上台执政前许下的承诺:处理这个国家所谓的“不合理”、“不道德”的收入差距。政府宣布,上市公司必须公布公司所有者薪酬与普通员工平均薪酬的比例。薪酬委员会在评估高官薪酬时,也会将普通员工工资考虑在内。公司必须任命一位总监来处理工会事宜,或建立一个员工咨询委员会。若有企业在设定管理人员薪酬标准时,受到超过20%的持股者的反对,该企业会被列入失信企业名单。

These proposals were immediately rubbished, not just by the left but also by Tories who had been persuaded by Mrs May’s argument that if capitalism’s friends do not reform the system, its enemies will do it for them. The government’s proposals repeatedly invoked the two greatest weasel words in the modern lexicon: “transparency” and “accountability”. They suggested risible penalties such as having your company’s name inscribed in a book. Frances O’Grady, the head of the Trades Union Congress, accused Mrs May of backing down from her promise to tackle corporate excess and put workers on boards. Robert Colvile, the editor of a right-leaning website, CapX, said that by defining executive pay as a problem then producing such a feeble solution, Mrs May had simply whetted the appetite for Corbynism.

提案立刻引来一片唾骂声,反对声不仅来自左翼,也来自右翼的一些保守党员,尽管他们之前已经被梅姨所谓的“如果资本主义自身不进行改革,那么社会主义将很荣幸地代劳”主张所折服。政府的提案重复引用了两个源自现代词典的最大托词:透明度和责任感,提案中还包括一些令人啼笑皆非的惩罚举措,譬如:不得将公司名字载入发行的图书之中。英国工会联盟主席弗朗西斯·奥格雷迪,指责梅姨背弃了处理公司超额高管薪水问题和使普通职员进入董事会的竞选承诺。而右倾网站《X资本》编辑罗伯特·科尔维尔称,把高管薪酬定义为贬义,却又抛出这么一个差强人意的处理方案,梅姨简直是在给科尔宾送人头啊。

This is unfair. In a world where people habitually call for “radical” overhauls, the green paper should be praised for its moderation. Mrs May’s proposals comply with the most important rule of policymaking: first do no harm. She has dropped ideas that, though eye-catching, might easily have proved damaging, such as mandating workers’ representatives on boards (which could be hijacked by trade unions) or providing shareholders with an automatic veto over executive pay (which again could be taken over by a minority of noisy activists).

上述指责未免有失公允。用一个习惯性的词汇来称之为“激进的”全面改革,政府出台的文件应该就其先进性而被赞扬。梅姨的提案符合政策制定的基本准则:不求有功,但求无过。她打消了一些能吸引眼球,但却会造成破坏效应的想法:譬如强行于董事会中安插普通员工代表(此举会被工会利用),或是授予股权持有者自动否决高管薪酬的权利(此举将再次被一小撮激进分子有机可乘)

There is no solid evidence that Britain’s bosses are “overpaid” as a class. Heads of FTSE 100 companies earn more on average than their continental counterparts but they also earn between a third and a half less than their American equivalents. Inequality has been declining in Britain since 2007. Nor is there firm evidence that bosses are freeloading. The government has tightened up the rules governing corporate behaviour in the light of two pieces of American legislation: the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms which followed the Enron scandal and the Dodd-Frank reforms which followed the global financial crisis. Boards are more likely to sack underperforming bosses than they have ever been.

本刊认为,并没有明显证据表明,作为一个独立阶级,英国的企业所有者们的薪资过高了。排名富时指数前100名的公司所有者的收入,要高于其欧洲大陆同类竞争对手,但却比其美国同类公司要少1/3到1/2,自2007年以来,英国的收入差距正在缩小,也没有证据显示,这些企业的所有者存在吃空饷的行为。政府出台更严格的企业管理法案,是鉴于发生在美国的两起立法行为:随着安然公司倒台案出台的《萨班斯-奥克斯利法案》以及伴随着08年全球经济危机出台的《多德弗兰克法案》。和过去任何时候相比,董事会更有权利对不称职的企业所有者作出任免决定。

The real problem with Britain is not an excess of fat cats but a shortage of cream. And the real problem with Mrs May’s reforms is that she is focusing on bosses’ pay rather than the performance of the economy. Britain no longer punches above its weight in producing world-class companies. Though Rolls-Royce and HSBC still play in the global premier league, BP and AstraZeneca have fallen into the second division. Britain also continues to struggle to produce successful middle-sized companies. Whereas Germany has a “fat middle”, with thousands of smallish global champions, Britain has a bimodal economy with a handful of gazelles at the top and a mass of zombies at the bottom. McKinsey calculates that 66% of British workers work for “low-productivity” companies, compared with 55% of Germans.

英国所面临的真正问题并不是收入差异,而是经济总量不足。梅姨所发起的改革面临的真正问题是,她更多关注的是企业所有者的薪酬,而不是经济本身的表现。英国再也不能像过去那样神来般地创造世界级的大企业了,尽管如劳斯莱斯、汇丰集团等仍旧在世界级资本联赛中发光发热,但英石油、阿斯利康等公司已经掉到第二梯队。英国也不能再诞生成功的中型企业了,当德国凭着数以千计的中小型企业撑起膀大腰圆的经济而风生水起时,英国正陷于两头大而中间轻的经济困顿中不能自拔,一小撮顶尖企业快速发展而底部的僵尸企业却举步维艰。根据麦肯锡咨询公司估计,有66%的英国工作者所处的公司处于“低生产力”状态,而这一数字在德国只有55%

The result is an underperforming economy. In 2015 Britain ranked third from the bottom in the G7 for productivity, above Canada and Japan. French workers, whom the British like to dismiss as holiday-hogging sluggards, are more productive than the British. Moreover, Britain is falling farther behind. As long as this continues, its economy will remain stagnant and its polity will continue to be convulsed by anger and resentment.

生产力不足的结果所导致的就是经济不景气,在2015年英国的生产力排在G7国家的倒数第三,仅高于加拿大和日本,就连曾经被英国人嘲笑为只知道度假的懒猪的法国工人,也比英国人更具生产力。更糟糕的是,英国的生产力已和第一梯队远远拉开差距,只要这样情况没有转机,英国的经济增长将会持续停滞,被愤怒和怨恨所左右的政局将会持续动荡。

Fixing Wernham Hogg

拯救沃恩哈姆·霍格造纸公司

There is a great deal of painstaking academic work exploring the reasons for Brito-sclerosis. The OECD says that management innovations are increasingly being stuck in a handful of global super-companies, rather than diffusing through the economy. Stickiness is worse in Britain than other advanced countries. The London School of Economics has documented that good management is the key to productivity growth and that Britain has a long tail of poorly managed firms. A third of British companies have seen no rise in productivity since the turn of the century.

为了探明英国所患的僵化症的病因,有大量的学术工作要做。据欧洲经济合作发展组织断言,越来越多的管理创新举措被一小撮跨国大公司所阻挠,未能扩散到经济的各个角落。在英国,体制僵化的现象比其他国家要严重的多。伦敦经济学院曾经刊文称,良好的管理措施是促进生产力发展的关键,英国有着一长串管理不善的企业,自21世纪初期以来,有1/3的英国公司在发展生产力方面毫无建树。

These all point to the same conclusion: the real enemy is David Brent. Britain has far too many second-rate, sloppy, oafish managers of the sort caricatured by Ricky Gervais in “The Office”. There are some good ideas for addressing Brentism. Charlie Mayfield, the chairman of John Lewis and head of a government-appointed Productivity Commission, has suggested creating a mentoring system which would allow successful companies to teach smaller ones (particularly their suppliers) the art of management. The government is thinking of freeing up funding for management training, rather than just technical training. But improving British management will require a lot of hard slog and unspectacular work. Bashing the fat cats is far more satisfying than engaging in serious reform.

上述种种,都得出了相同的结论:原来是大卫·布伦特的锅啊!英国有着太多太多的二流水准、马大哈、白痴到极点的管理者,就像英剧《办公室》中瑞奇·热维斯扮演的夸张角色一样,当然布伦特身上还是有一些优点是值得发扬的。譬如约翰·路易斯百货公司的主席查理·梅菲尔德,就提出了建议创立一个企业指导系统,使那些大企业将所谓成功的管理经验传授给小型企业(尤其是那些大企业的供应商)。还有政府也在考虑划拨更多资金来进行管理培训,而不仅仅只重视科学技术培训。尽管改善英国企业的管理水平,是一个需要经历艰苦跋涉的漫长过程,需要从不经意的小事做起,但如果这类重大改革仅仅从管理者的薪酬开刀,这显然离令人满意相去甚远。