史蒂文•曼迪斯于1992-2004年在高盛任职，目前是哥伦比亚大学商学院（Columbia Business School）兼职教授和社会学系博士研究生。鉴于公众对自己前雇主的关注程度，曼迪斯精明地把自己博士论文中的部分内容编纂成册，出了一本书，名叫《高盛怎么了》【What Happened to Goldman Sachs，哈佛评论杂志社（Harvard Business Review Press），381页）。这种做法非常符合高盛的作风——这家公司教给人们的就是怎样在机会出现的时候抓住它。2012年3月14日，格雷格•史密斯曾经在《纽约时报》（the New York Times）社论版对页发表了一篇具有煽风点火作用的文章，他在其中公开辞去了高盛常务董事一职，这也是出于同样的思路。此举让史密斯出了名，还为他赢得了一份价值不菲的图书出版合同。
Becoming a household name has not been a good thing for Goldman Sachs (GS). Not long ago, few people outside Wall Street and the top tier of corporate America paid much attention to Goldman, other than to note how many former Goldmanites seemed to be concentrated in the upper echelons of the federal government and other seats of power. Then came the worldwide financial meltdown, and almost overnight, Goldman came to be invoked as a symbol of everything that had gone wrong.
Steven Mandis, who worked at Goldman from 1992 to 2004 and is now an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and a doctoral candidate in the sociology department. With public interest aroused in his former employer, Mandis has astutely adapted parts of his Ph.D. thesis into a book called What Happened to Goldman Sachs (Harvard Business Review Press, 381 pages). That's a very Goldman move: The place teaches you how to seize opportunities when they present themselves. It's the same kind of thinking that led Greg Smith to publicly resign from his position as a Goldman executive director on March 14, 2012, via an incendiary op-ed column in the New York Times (NYT). It made him a celebrity and netted him a substantial book contract.
Unlike Smith, however, Mandis is writing out of sorrow rather than anger, and trying to explain rather than exploit his former employer. He clearly has a lot of respect and affection for Goldman despite having been gone almost a decade, and seems to have a blind spot about how the general public perceives the firm. In his introduction, for example, Mandis muses, "It strains credulity to think that the firm's culture could have changed so dramatically between 2006, when the firm was so generally admired, and 2009, when it became so widely vilified."
But of course, that change in the public perception of Goldman has nothing to do with changes in Goldman's culture. The change came as the public began to see Goldman as a too-big-to-fail firm, helped by government bailouts, that quickly began posting record profits and paying bonuses that were huge even by Wall Street standards while millions of Main Street Americans were still suffering.
Mandis's book is a sober analysis of the changes that took place at Goldman as the firm transformed itself from a smallish partnership whose profits came primarily from serving clients into a worldwide colossus with public stock whose major profits come from trading. When you serve clients, the long term matters. In proprietary trading, long-term planning is, "What should we order for lunch?"
What happened to Goldman is rather simple: Incentives changed. From its founding in 1869 through 1986, the firm was a general partnership. This meant that every partner was responsible for all of Goldman's debts. As a result, the firm was very, very careful about the risks it took. When any partner can be personally wiped out if the firm fails, he (there were few shes) wants to make sure that it doesn't fail.
In 1986, Goldman became a limited liability company -- a significant change. Partners' capital in the firm was still at risk, but anything they owned outside of the partnership was safe.