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[经济学人] [2011.09.17] The doofus factor 愚蠢的董事会

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金币

大家网大学二年级

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发表于 2011-9-22 15:44 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Corporate governance
公司管理


The doofus factor
愚蠢的董事会


How can you tell a good board of directors from a bad one?
如何辨别某个董事会是好还是坏?

THE directors of Yahoo! were “so spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country” that they fired Carol Bartz as chief executive “to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are.” That was Ms Bartz’s typically blunt verdict, offered to Fortune after she was dismissed with a phone call by the internet firm’s chairman, Roy Bostock, on September 6th.

雅虎董事们很担心被认为是国内最糟的董事会,所以他们开除了首席执行官卡罗尔•巴茨(Carol Bartz)希望借此显示自己不是蠢货。巴茨在9月6日接到雅虎公司董事会主席罗伊•博斯托克(Roy Bostock)的电话,通知她被解雇了,随后在接受《财富》杂志采访时直率的称雅虎董事会为“蠢货”。

She would say that. Yet Ms Bartz’s criticisms of the board have been sympathetically received. Firing a chief executive by phone smacks of hasty, panicky decision-making. And Yahoo!’s board already had a poor reputation, having turned down an offer from Microsoft that valued the firm at several times what it is worth today.

她肯定会这么说,巴茨对雅虎董事会的批评已经获得大家同情地认同。通过电话方式来解雇首席执行官意味着是在轻率且紧急情况下做出的决策。而且雅虎董事会已经信誉不佳,雅虎拒绝微软的收购,当时的收购价格是现在公司市值的几倍。

It is not just Yahoo!’s board that is feeling the heat. The directors of HP, another stumbling Silicon Valley giant, have been accused of serial ineptitude spanning the appointment and dismissal of Carly Fiorina as chief executive, the firing of her successor, Mark Hurd, and the selection of his replacement, Léo Apotheker. As the phone-hacking scandal escalates at News Corporation, shareholders accuse its board of dozing on the job. BP’s board has been slammed for its oversight of the firm’s handling of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as well as this year’s failed deal with a Russian oil firm. And so on.

不仅仅只有雅虎董事局感到压力。另一个失误不断的硅谷巨头惠普(HP)董事局也遭到指责,称其存在一连串的不称职,包括:首席执行官卡莉•菲奥莉娜(Carly Fiorina)的任命到解雇,菲奥莉娜的继任者马克•赫德(Mark Hurd)的解雇,以及对马克继任者李艾科(Leo Apotheker)的选择等问题。由于新闻集团的电话窃听丑闻不断升级,股东指责董事会在工作中打瞌睡。英国石油公司(BP)董事会因处理去年墨西哥湾漏油事件的疏忽、以及今年与俄罗斯石油公司交易中失败而遭到猛烈抨击。如此等等。

All this is a consequence of a series of corporate-governance reforms during the past 20 years intended to empower non-executive directors in their oversight of executives. Before these changes, the only criticism of boards that was taken seriously was that they were hand-picked yes-men (plus a few yes-women), chosen largely for their docility and willingness to pay the boss a fortune. Today boards are often chided by shareholder activists—as Yahoo!’s board was by Dan Loeb, an outspoken hedge-fund manager—creating a temptation to do something decisive.

这所有的一切都是源于过去20年公司管理改革的结果,公司改革意图在于授权非执行董事监督管理执行管理者们。在这些变化之前,对董事们非常严重的唯一批评则是他们都是精选出的唯唯诺诺的人(少数女性),选择他们是因为他们温顺且乐意为老板支付一大笔钱。如今,指责董事会的则是股东中的积极分子,他们想要做一些决定性的事情,正如指责雅虎董事会的就是对冲基金经理人丹•勒布(Dan Loeb)。

During the past decade the average tenure of chief executives has fallen to 6.6 years from 8.1 years, according to a recent study by Booz & Co, a consultancy. The average tenure is even shorter for chief executives recruited, like Ms Bartz, from outside the firm. Departing bosses can play a big role in recruiting internal successors. But blame for poor outside appointments falls squarely on independent directors, perhaps encouraging them to change their minds at the first sign of failure.

根据博斯(Booz)咨询公司最近的一份研究显示,在过去的十年中,首席执行官的平均任期从8.1年下降为6.6年。而像巴茨这样从外部空降的首席执行官的平均任期则更短。即将离任的老板们在招聘的内部继承者中扮演着重要的角色,但是对糟糕的外部任命的责备正好指向独立的董事会,可能鼓励他们失败迹象的一开始就改变主意。

It is hard to tell from the outside whether a board is any good. New guidelines requiring directors to be independent of the chief executive and to have at least some relevant qualifications have largely ended absurdities such as the octogenarian actress (as seen in “Caddyshack 2”) who sat on the board of Lehman Brothers. Today only a handful of big firms have the sort of board that seems hand-picked to be loyal to the boss, chief among them being News Corporation, says Paul Hodgson of GMI, a corporate-governance ratings firm. Mr Hodgson describes recent changes to News Corporation’s board as “cosmetic” and points to an unusually large number of directors who are corporate insiders and thus likely to be loyal to the chief executive, Rupert Murdoch.

从外部很难辨别某个董事会是否有任何用处。新的指导方针要求董事们独立于首席执行官,而且至少有一些相关的资历,这样新的指导方针基本上已经终结很多荒谬现象,诸如八十多岁的女演员(就像《疯狂高尔夫2》中所见到的)存在于雷曼兄弟董事会中的。公司管理评级机构GMI公司的保罗•霍奇森(Paul Hodgson)说,如今,为了忠于老板而挑选出来的董事会,只存在于少数大公司里,他们中最主要的就是新闻集团。保罗•霍奇森将最近新闻集团董事会的变化描述为“乔装的”,而且指出大量的董事是公司内部人员而且可能对首席执行官鲁伯特•默多克(Rupert Murdoch)也非常衷心。

News Corporation is one of ten firms in the S&P 500 that particularly worry GMI. Other media firms with well-paid chief executives also make the list, including Viacom, CBS and Discovery Communications. So do Coca-Cola and Nike.

新闻集团是特别让GMI公司担心的标准普尔500指数中十大公司之一。其他高薪聘请首席执行官的传媒企业也榜上有名,包括维亚康姆(Viacom)、哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)和探索通信公司(Discovery Communications),而且可口可乐(Coca-Cola)和耐克(Nike)也在榜。

The board of Yahoo!, by contrast, raises “no red flags”, says Mr Hodgson. Indeed, it seems something of a model board, with an independent chairman and a good mix of long-serving and new directors. It made most of Ms Bartz’s share options subject to tough performance triggers and negotiated a relatively stingy termination agreement. That reflects well on the Yahoo! board: it made sure that Ms Bartz stood to make a ton of money only if she made a ton of money for shareholders.

霍奇森说,相比之下,雅虎董事会并没有发出“危险信号”。确实,雅虎董事会似乎是一个模范董事会,有独立的主席、长期董事和新聘董事的良好融合。雅虎董事使巴茨的认股权与其刻苦的表现挂钩,并与其协商制定了相对苛刻的解雇协议。这在雅虎董事会能很好的反映出来:董事会保证巴茨只有在给股东创造大量财富的基础上,自己才能获得大量的财富。

There is growing demand for boards to undergo a formal evaluation process, to assess both the performance of each individual board member and how they work together as a group. The European Union is considering new regulations that would require an independent evaluation of the board every three years. Kevin Kelly, the boss of Heidrick and Struggles, a firm of headhunters, says that a surprisingly large number of American directors tell him privately that they would welcome something similar. So, no doubt, would many shareholders.

越来越多的呼声要求董事会应经历一个正式的评估过程,要求鉴定每个董事会成员的个体表现及其作为团队时的协作表现。欧盟正考虑新的法规,将要求每三年对董事会进行独立评估。猎头公司海德思哲国际咨询公司(Heidrick and Struggles)的老板凯文•凯利(Kevin Kelly)说,大量美国公司的董事们私下告诉他说他们希望类似的东西。因此,毫无疑问,很多股东也是如此希望。
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