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管理

天价薪酬错不在高管

Roger Martin, Jennifer Riel 2011年11月18日

不错,基于股权奖励的高额薪酬已经扭曲了高管们的激励机制。但CEO们不应该成为人们谴责的对象,他们的老板才是罪魁祸首。

    “占领华尔街”抗议活动的走向还不明朗。虽然纽约警察清理了祖科蒂公园(Zucotti Park),其他城市也迅速跟进,但这场活动不可能在近期内销声匿迹。真正的怒火并未熄灭,而且还在继续蔓延,早已超越了华尔街的范畴。不错,人们对金融服务业的敌视显而易见,认为就是他们导致全世界陷入了漫长而严重的经济衰退。但这场抗议活动的深入程度远远不止如此。我们常说的“那1%”(也就是在全球财富中所占比例过多的全球精英)并不仅仅包括对冲基金经理、投资顾问和交易商,其中还包括了各个行业中非金融公司的高管和领袖。愤怒也指向了他们。弄清楚这些批评的原因同样重要。

    美国劳工联合会-产业工会联合会(AFL-CIO)的资料显示, 299家最大公司的CEO在2010年平均获得了1,140万美元的薪酬,而普通劳动者的薪酬在2009年刚刚超过3.3万美元。两者之间的巨大差距是令人们群情激昂的原因之一。但问题不仅仅在于钱。有关薪酬的争论模糊了有关高管行为的一个合理之处。这一点值得进行深入探讨。

    人们对公司高管的愤怒还源于这样一种看法:美国公司没有尽到其道德责任。“权力越大,责任也越大”的观念并不仅仅是好莱坞大片里的台词。它包含了一个强有力的、能引起共鸣的事实:我们希望最有权势的人谨慎行事,负责地行使其权力。次贷危机、安然(Enron)欺诈丑闻、世通(WorldCom)事件、期权回溯丑闻,以及其他层出不穷的企业违法案例表明,公司领导者们做起事来完全不负责任。它们表明,利润现在已经优先于员工、环境、客户、社会和其他一切。它们还表明,CEO们用道德换取薪酬,引导全社会走上了一条贪婪和腐败之路。

    商业世界的维护者辩称(正如我们已经做过的那样),问题不在于个别高管,而在于令高管们左右为难的体系。高管们被要求专注于提高股东价值。这是个极其困难的任务。反映在股价上的股东价值是一个衡量其他人期望的指标。虽然股东价值可能部分取决于企业基本面,但它们也会受到宏观因素、系统偏好和广告宣传的推动。高管们很难在短期内通过提升公司业绩这一脚踏实地但却困难重重的工作来影响股价。因此,他们转而从投资者的期望入手。他们提供引导,大力宣传公司股票,进行莽撞的并购和业务剥离,这些都是为了推动股价上扬。

    Just where the Occupy Wall Street protests are headed is unclear. Though New York police cleared out Zucotti Park and others cities quickly moved to follow suit, it is unlikely the movement will simply die away in the near term. Real anger remains, an anger that extends well beyond Wall Street. Yes, there is clear enmity towards the financial services sector for tipping the world into a lengthy and damaging recession, but the protests run much deeper than that. The much-referenced 1% -- the global elite that controls a disproportionate percentage of global wealth -- is not made up solely of hedge fund managers, investment advisors and traders. It is made up of executives and leaders of non-financial firms in every sector. The anger is directed here too. And it is just as important to make sense of this strand of criticism.

    Per the AFL-CIO, CEOs of 299 top firms earned, on average, $11.4 million in total compensation in 2010. The disparity between that number and the average worker's salary -- just over $33,000 in 2009 -- is part of what gets the blood boiling. But it is more than just money. The salary argument obfuscates a legitimate point about executive behavior that is worth exploring.

    The anger with our corporate executives is also rooted in a sense that corporate America has abdicated its moral responsibility. The notion that "with great power comes great responsibility" is not just a line from a Hollywood blockbuster. It contains a powerful and resonant truth: We want the most powerful among us to act with care and to wield that power responsibly. The sub-prime mortgage debacle, the Enron, WorldCom and options backdating scandals, and myriad other examples of corporate malfeasance suggest that our corporate leaders are capable of acting utterly irresponsibly. They suggest that profits now come before employees, before the environment, before customers, before society, before anything and everything. They suggest that CEOs have traded their ethics for a paycheck and led us down a greed-driven and corrupt path.

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