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管理

真有那么多“全球CEO”吗?

Ken Favaro 2013年04月19日

仔细研究一下2012年全球2500家最大的上市公司新任CEO的背景,你就会发现他们大多都是 “双料土著”:作为本土人士在公司内部一步一步获得升迁。

    有许多大公司的知名CEO都是外国人,如雷诺日产集团(Nissan and Renault)的卡洛斯•戈恩、可口可乐公司(Coca-Cola)的穆泰康、百事可乐公司(PepsiCo)的卢英德和索尼公司(Sony)的霍华德•斯金格。

    与此同时,全球化进程虽然受到2008-09年的全球经济低迷影响,但此后势头又不断增强。为运营规模庞大的全球业务,企业高管变身空中飞人频繁往来世界各地已经不足为奇。

    于是,全球CEO(通常被理解为来自公司总部所在国以外国家或有相当一部分职业生涯在海外度过的CEO)的概念便有理可循了。如今的企业需要管理人员具有高水平的海外专长,而过去并不需要这些。

    但是如果你认真研究2012年全球2500家最大的上市公司CEO的背景,对“全球CEO”的传统概念会变得难以捉摸。在2012年新上任的300名CEO中,来自公司总部所在国以外国度的只占19%。我们研究发现,即使在全球前250家最大的上市公司(这些应该算是最能称得上全球化的公司),新上任CEO也只有25%来自海外。

    去年新上任外籍CEO的比例与过去四年的平均数十分相似,这表明,总体来说,全球CEO所占比例并未上升。另外,新上任的本土CEO也并不一定拥有丰富的海外经历。去年,拥有海外工作经验的新上任CEO只占45%,而在我们调查的全球前250家最大的上市公司中,拥有海外工作经验的新任CEO也仅占52%。

    相比欧洲,聘请外籍CEO的美国公司比例要少得多。譬如,在过去4年中,只有14%的美国公司聘请外籍CEO,而在西欧,这个比例高达30%。当然,不得不承认,欧洲公司大多数情况下都是从欧洲其他国家聘请的外籍CEO。在日本,只有1%的新任CEO来自国外。

    在不同行业,外籍CEO占比也存在差异。在过去4年中,电信和必需消费品上市公司聘请的CEO中有25%以上来自海外,相比之下,公用事业和IT行业的外籍CEO比例分别为12%和9%。大多数公用事业公司都具有区域性特征,所以外籍CEO占比不高是可以理解的,而IT行业从业人员比较年轻,相对来说,他们获得海外工作经历的机会不多。

    由此可见,大部分CEO都是其公司所在国的本土人士,且大多数情况下,他们并没有长时间的海外工作经历。在人们大谈全球化和全球CEO的今天,这可能显得令人意外。不过,我认为这也不算意外,原因如下:

    首先,大部分大公司的董事会算不上特别全球化,尽管可能会有几个象征性的外籍董事。如果这种现状发展到极致,就会导致“熟人腐败”现象,也就是说,董事们会让与他们气味相投的人来担任重要职位。如今,公司的董事会远没有它们的业务国际化,这也许可以解释为什么它们的CEO没那么全球化。

    Plenty of well-known CEOs have been brought in to run large companies based in countries outside their native lands. Carlos Ghosn at Nissan and Renault, Muhtar Kent at Coca-Cola (KO), Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo (PEP), and Howard Stringer at Sony (SNE) come to mind.

    Meanwhile, globalization continues to gain momentum following a slowdown after the 2008-09 worldwide economic downturn. The globetrotting corporate leader jetting from continent to continent to oversee vast business empires has become the expectation.

    The idea of the "global CEO" — usually understood as chief executives who either come from a country other than where their company is headquartered, or have spent a considerable amount of their careers working "overseas" — makes sense. Companies require a level of expertise outside their home territories that goes beyond what they have needed in the past.

    But if you look at the people who have become CEOs at the world's largest 2,500 public companies in 2012, the conventional notion of the global CEO is a myth. Among the incoming class of 300 new CEOs in 2012, just 19% were nationals of a country outside their company's headquarters. Even at the 250 largest companies in our study -- those most likely to be truly global -- only 25% of incoming CEOs came from another country.

    Last year's numbers on new-CEO nationality closely resemble the average over the past four years, suggesting that the overall percentage of "global chief executives" isn't on the rise. And these new, native CEOs are not necessarily globetrotters. Last year, just 45% of incoming CEOs had experience working in a region other than their companies' own; at the largest 250 companies in our study, the figure rose only to 52%.

    U.S. companies hire foreign CEOs far less often than European companies. Over the past four years, for instance, 14% of U.S.-based companies hired a foreigner, while fully 30% of Western European companies have done so. (Granted, European companies hired "foreigners" most often from other European countries.) In Japan, just 1% of new CEOs were foreign.

    CEO nationality differs among individual industries. Over the past four years, more than a quarter of new CEOs brought into companies in the telecom and consumer staples sectors globally were foreign-born, compared to just 12% of utilities CEOs and 9% of those in the IT industry. Most utilities are regionally focused, so the industry's low rate is understandable. As for IT companies, employees at these firms tend to be younger, and have had fewer opportunities for international experience.

    Most CEOs are natives of their companies' home countries, and they have not spent, for the most part, considerable lengths of time abroad. With all the talk about globalization and the worldly CEO, this may come as a surprise. But should it? I don't think so — for several reasons.

    For starters, boards at most large corporations are not especially global, despite the likely presence of a few token foreigners. At its most extreme, this can lead to what might be called "familiarity corruption," a kind of cronyism where directors turn to people like themselves to fill critical positions. Today, companies are more global than their boardrooms, and this may explain why they are more global than their CEOs.

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