2008年8月24日 星期日

Why don't we hang bad admirals of industry?

Why don't we hang bad admirals of industry?

In a corporate landscape littered with failures, there are plenty of potentially suitable cases for the 'Byng treatment' - that is, swiftly identifying and removing failed management.

As with many management techniques, however, it is less than convincing in application. John Byng was a British admiral executed in 1757 for not chasing the French fleet hard enough, inspiring Voltaire to write that, from time to time, the British executed a senior officer, regardless of his guilt or innocence, 'pour encourager les autres' - and that line has made Byng famous to this day.

Today's admirals of industry are not so severely encouraged. Indeed, it is rather the reverse idea that seems to reign: that top-ranking failure should be swept under the carpet, concealed and even rewarded, as in the absurd notion that the top manager who messed up is the best person to head the clean-up - for, having created the shambles, he knows best where the bodies are buried.

After a year of the near-fatal credit crunch unleashed by their stupidities, few of the lords of the financial universe have been Bynged. The Times counts just half-a-dozen axed CEOs in the UK and US combined, although the senior body count must be higher if the top echelons of Bear Stearns and Northern Rock, the epicentres of the Wall Street and City horrors, are thrown in (or out).

Even though the departed include powerhouses such as Charles 'Chuck' Prince of Citigroup and Stanley O'Neal at Merrill Lynch, the numbers are laughably small compared to the gargantuan losses inflicted on shareholders. The more readily aroused anger of US investors, and the more impressive retaliation of the regulator and courts, make swift justice more likely than in the UK. But that hardly seems to have enhanced efficient prudence in Wall Street.

The Byng-type execution is only the most extreme expression of the carrot-and-stick theory. This holds that corporate donkeys will be stimulated to give of their best by a tempting incentive - and if they aren't, the stick of punishment is there as a looming threat, with dismissal and possibly disgrace taking the place of the block or the gallows.

But the sub-prime crimes offer no support for the long-held belief that the stick is a great deterrent. Managers are too often taken at their own valuation. Northern Rock was applauded, not pilloried, for the highly hazardous 'business model' that threatened to shatter Britain's entire financial structure.

In the US, the criminal charges and prison sentences of fallen stars, led by the Enron team, would seem to provide heftier sticks. But, on the evidence, nobody can seriously believe that the fate of these conspicuous sinners discouraged other managers from forging ahead with novel, apparently super-profitable, but actually fraudulent business models. Very little time separated the Enron scandal and Wall Street's latest mayhem.

The Street's top managers could presumably read about Enron's misdeeds. In fact, they hardly needed reminding - many were wildly enthusiastic accomplices to the venality, which couldn't have succeeded without their aid. The system encourages bosses (see Conrad Black) to act as if their companies are their private property. Hired hands should not suffer from this delusion, but the evidence that they do is alarming. The gigantic remuneration of today's corporate bosses encourages delusions of grandeur, which generate sloppy leadership and overarching ambition.

Moreover, employment contracts and incentive schemes generate personal wealth that makes dismissal financially immaterial. There is no stick. Directors approve these fat-cat follies for a very simple reason: they all drink from the same trough. It's a strange carrot that gives a failed executive more for failure than success. Cast-iron contracts and boardroom acquiescence in excessive rewards are supposedly justified by the need to attract high-fliers with wonderful living standards - and to maintain the latter after Icarus falls to earth.

Whatever the merits of that case, the argument for generosity somehow doesn't apply as you move down the ladder. In lower realms, the carrot is generally much less important than the stick. Highly sophisticated firms like Intel and GE base their payment schemes on ratings whose consequences are automatic; fall below a given score and you're out. This inhumane treatment has nothing in its favour, not even better performance.

That great teacher W Edwards Deming made managers play competitive games to prove that achievement is largely random and that in any team, somebody inevitably comes bottom. Belabouring that unfortunate loser does nothing for overall performance. Treating people as individuals and helping them to succeed and improve is the true answer. Top managers who don't know or practise that truth don't deserve employment, let alone incentives.

· Simon Caulkin returns next week

More Flights Are Overbooked, but Payoffs Are Rising

The New York Time

More Flights Are Overbooked, but Payoffs Are Rising

Published: August 22, 2008

The bad news: the likelihood that travelers will be bumped from an overbooked flight may grow worse this fall when airlines shrink their fleets to cut unprofitable flights and inefficient planes, meaning even fewer empty seats than there are now.

The good news: airlines are required to offer richer rewards — twice the amount of money they used to pay out — for passengers bumped from a flight. The payoff can be even greater for people who know how to bargain.

In the first six months of the year, about 343,000 passengers were denied seats on planes, according to the Department of Transportation, out of 282 million passengers. Most of those people volunteered to give up their seats in return for some form of compensation, like a voucher for a free flight.

But D.O.T. statistics also show about 1.16 of every 10,000 passengers had their seats taken away outright because of overbooking — which may sound like a low rate, until your name is called.

“I hear all kinds of nightmares,” said Clay Escobedo, a supervisor at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Nevada. He was told earlier this week that there were not enough seats for his family on a Horizon Air flight to Los Angeles, where they were to connect for a trip to a resort in Mexico. “I didn’t think it could happen to me.”

Back when most tickets were refundable or easy to change, and the airlines offered multiple daily flights to many cities, carriers used to routinely overbook about 15 percent of their seats. Passengers who missed their plane could simply catch a later flight.

Rules are tighter now, and passengers with nonrefundable tickets can only expect a credit for an unused ticket, often minus a hefty fee, if they change their flight. That means they have more incentive to show up.

But airlines still overbook, regarding bumping as a necessary part of doing business, especially in the face of record fuel prices. Overbooking, after all, helps ensure flights are as full as possible, a priority for the financially troubled carriers.

That strategy can also backfire on the airlines, said Tim Winship, an editor with SmarterTravel.com, a Web site that offers travel advice. The practice is “bad for them, it’s bad for morale, and you end up with a potential riot on your hands among people who have to be compensated,” he added.

Even with the higher compensation for being bumped, many passengers are angered by the practice.

“It feels like I’m paying them for goods and services, and what I’m getting back is some useless voucher and a ‘good luck with getting home,’ ” said Andrew Cox, a manager at a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in Lansing, Mich.

He agreed to give up his seat at Kennedy International Airport in New York last week in exchange for a $400 voucher good toward a future Delta flight and a seat on a later flight, only to find out that his later flight was canceled.

“There’s just so much passing the buck,” Mr. Cox said. “Of course there are things that can’t be controlled, but a flight has a certain amount of seats. It’s pretty simple. If flights are being overbooked, then what does that say about how the airline runs their business?”

For Delta Air Lines, bumping became a big concern last summer, when 3.3 passengers out of every 10,000 travelers were bumped, more than double the industry average.

So Delta started using new technology to better track differences in no-show patterns based on time, day and season.

“We now have a much better view of how many passengers we expect to show up” for the same flight on a Tuesday versus a Friday, said Betsy E. Talton, a Delta spokeswoman. The methods have helped Delta cut its involuntary bumpings in half, putting it more in line with the industry average. In fact, the rate of forced bumping for all the airlines declined in the first six months of 2008, compared with the same period last year. But the rate remains higher this year than in all of 2007, and has been on a steady climb since 2002.

Meanwhile, Continental Airlines said it was introducing a new feature on its Web site and at airport kiosks that lets travelers automatically check in within 24 hours of their return flight. The step is meant to save travelers the trouble of going online to check in the day before their return flight. It can also help protect them against getting bumped, since Continental will know that they plan to make the flight.

The higher cost of payouts, which the Transportation Department doubled this spring after last summer’s travel chaos, gives the airlines extra incentive to refine their overbooking models.

Travelers can now receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within two hours after their original domestic flight time and within four hours for international. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then. The final amount depends on the length of the flight and the price paid for the ticket.

Even stricter rules apply in Europe, where compensation ranges from 125 euros (about $185) to 600 euros (about $888), depending on the length of the flight and the amount of time the passenger will be delayed.

Compensation must be paid immediately in cash, or with a voucher if the passenger accepts it, and the airline must offer a choice of a refund, a return flight to their departure city or an alternative flight. Volunteers also receive compensation, which they negotiate with the airline.

Passengers are learning, however, that if an airline does not get enough volunteers at a lower figure, they might be able to bid up the offer, and also obtain sweeteners that include vouchers for meals, hotels, transportation and even plane tickets.

Mr. Escobedo, traveling with his wife, daughter and two grandsons, was told there were only three seats for them for their Horizon Air flight to Los Angeles to connect for their vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico.

“I stood my ground,” he said. “I kept telling the agent, ‘That plane better not pull away from the gate. You need to make another announcement.’ ”

The agent complied, and, once everyone was on board, asked for two volunteers so the Escobedos could travel together. The airline offered a free round-trip ticket, good for a year, to anywhere that Alaska or its partner Horizon Air fly, and promised that volunteers could still reach Los Angeles via San Francisco that day.

Stephen Schwartz, a graphic artist, immediately put up his hand, as did Margaret Cockrell, a professional development educator. Her reason for volunteering? “This family deserves to go on their vacation,” she said.

Mr. Schwartz added: “A round-trip ticket. Who could pass that up? Now, I can go anywhere I want.”

When Mr. Schwartz arrived in San Francisco after giving up his seat from Reno, he learned his connecting flight to Los Angeles was also overbooked. There, the airline was offering $250 vouchers to passengers who would agree to take a later flight.

Mr. Schwartz said he was tempted, but ultimately declined because he had arranged to be picked up in Los Angeles so he could reach his job at a summer camp.

But Mr. Schwartz had already received an unexpected reward. As he gave up the seat in Reno, Mr. Escobedo, head of the vacationing family, handed him and Ms. Cockrell each $20, so they could buy themselves lunch.

“They saved the day for me,” Mr. Escobedo said.

Kathryn Carlson contributed reporting.

2008年8月22日 星期五




張孝威:變革要權責分明 耳根不能軟

* 中國時報 2008-08-22 * 【江睿智/專訪】

 全球大環境快速變動,企業面臨變革。得過無數企業管理獎項、公司自治專家的台灣大總經理張孝威認為,企業變革成功的秘訣是:權責明確、大股東不能耳根子軟、團隊要有執行力。他並強調,執行力不是口號,而是know how,員工的參與討論與對公司認同,才能達成變革的目標。以下是專訪紀要:

 問:你在台積電推動ABC(以活動為基準的成本會計系統),在台灣大則是ECE(Excel Customer Experience,創造客戶最佳使用經驗),使台灣大獲得消基會客戶滿意度調查最高的公司,你是如何發想這個計畫,並落實執行,最後成為公司文化?




 落實執行,這不是call how(註:恰好與中文「口號」音近),而是know how。我們找專業客服團隊進來幫忙,把他們專業知識轉為台灣大內部可以用的,這花了很多時間,也讓幹部參與討論,最後所有員工都要參與受訓。只要員工支持,就是要儘量給予支持與協助。要給員工明確、堅定方向,然後就是,溝通、溝通再溝通,不斷地溝通。










2008年8月21日 星期四

retirees pass along their expertise to younger generations

Issue: Retiring Employees, Lost Knowledge

A pilot program at American Express gives soon-to-be retirees less work and more time to pass along their expertise to younger generations

With baby boomers poised to leave the workforce, will the next generation of workers be equipped to run the show?

That question was on the minds of executives at American Express (AXP) in 2006, when the company assembled an internal team to anticipate problems and pose solutions stemming from demographic shifts in its workforce.

Before long, the group made an important discovery: Not only would a huge number of employees become eligible for retirement in the next five to 10 years, the company had done little to retain the wealth of institutional knowledge they would be taking with them. From the intricacies of key client relationships to mainframe computer languages no longer being taught in school, many experienced workers possessed critical know-how that, if lost, would be costly—if not impossible—for the company to replace.

This was a problem with no simple solution, according to Jim Rottman, head of American Express' workforce transformation group. Retiring employees would need incentives for infusing the company with their knowledge, and they would need time to do it. Their expertise would have to be translated and presented in a form that would appeal to the younger workers receiving it. And since it would be nearly impossible to elicit knowledge from all exiting employees, the company would have to target those with the most crucial skills.

Pilot Program Launched in 2008

These parameters helped shape the American Express phased-retirement program, an initiative launched in pilot mode during the first quarter of 2008. Rather than retiring and leaving the company at once, participants gradually give up their day-to-day responsibilities, while replacing some of their free time with activities like mentoring and teaching master classes to their successors. In addition, they get more time out of the office doing whatever they want—be it planning for life in retirement or doing charity work. The phased retiree continues to receive a portion of his previous salary, benefits as usual, and the company in turn gets to hold on to some of its most valuable employees a year or more past traditional retirement age.

For now, the program is only being rolled out to employees in two of its business units: technology, because it was easiest to assess what skills needed to be passed on there, and finance, because that's where the company has some its most important client relationships. Soon-to-be-retirees in these units can apply to be part of the program.

It's an easy sell to senior employees, says Rottman. "It allows them to pursue their personal passion while working at American Express," he says. "And it allows them to leave their legacy behind and get the next generation of leaders and experts ready." It also helps them avoid some of the emotional and financial hurdles of sudden retirement.

Tech Teaching Tools a Must

Tailoring the lessons of an older generation to Gen Xers and Gen Yers, on the other hand, has required creativity. "One of the things that we've really focused on is paying as much attention to the person who's transferring the knowledge as to the person who's receiving [it]," says Rottman. That means getting phased retirees to learn new teaching tools like "learning maps," or visual representations of systems and processes, and interactive media like wikis, instant messaging, and audio posted on a company intranet.

So far, Rottman says the response from employees has been enthusiastic. And since it has involved little or no extra cost to the company, and no apparent risk, the initiative is gaining support in the upper levels of the organization.

Douglas MacMillan is a staff writer for BusinessWeek.com in New York.

Dentists 'pull out more teeth'

Dentists 'pull out more teeth'

Dental work

Dentists are more likely to pull teeth out or fit false ones than provide fillings or crowns under an NHS deal introduced two years ago, figures show.

In England, treatments that included dentures increased from 38% to 48% between 2003/04 and 2007/08 and extractions from 7% to 8%.

But the number of crowns fell from 48% to 35% and fillings from 28% to 26%.

The figures also showed fewer patients being treated, despite more dentists joining the NHS after the new contract.

Overall, 27m patients were seen by an NHS dentist in England during the past two years - 1.1m fewer than the previous two years.

Those that are able to access care are confronted with a system that discourages modern, preventive care by placing targets, rather than patients, at its heart
Susie Sanderson, British Dental Association

But there were 655 more dentists doing NHS work in 2007/08 than in the previous year - an increase of 3.2%.

Similar trends in the type of dental work being done were reported for Wales, although there was no increase in the amount of dentures fitted.

The proportion of treatments in Wales which included teeth being taken out increased from around 8% to just over 9% and the number of crowns fell from 44% to 35%.

The figures from the NHS Information Centre also show regional differences in the amount of NHS work done by dentists.

Those in South Central Strategic Health Authority spent 56% of their time on NHS work compared with 84% in the North East.

Contractual arrangements

The new dental contract, introduced in April 2006, was intended to allow dentists to spend more time with NHS patients in a bid to make the profession more attractive.

Costs to the NHS for dental treatment increased by £56m to £531m in 2007/08 - an increase of 12% on the previous year.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre said: "These reports show the most comprehensive picture of NHS dentistry to date under the new contractual arrangements.

"As a qualified dentist myself, it is interesting to see how a typical course of dental treatment is changing."

Chief Dental Officer Dr Barry Cockcroft said the figures showed NHS dentistry was "on the road to recovery".

"Our challenge is encouraging people to visit their dentist for regular check ups, even if they feel they don't need to.

"There is also a perception amongst the public that there is a growing lack of NHS dentists and these latest statistics prove that there is actually more and more NHS dentistry services opening around the country."

But Susie Sanderson, chair of the BDA's Executive Board, said there were still "significant problems".

"Those that are able to access care are confronted with a system that discourages modern, preventive care by placing targets, rather than patients, at its heart.

"The apparent change in treatment patterns is also of concern and requires further investigation so that the impact of the new contract is fully understood."

Shadow health minister Mike Penning added that over a million people had lost their dentist and the decline was continuing.

"Ministers need to stop dithering, admit that their new dental contract has been a complete failure, and take action to make good their pledge to give everyone access to an NHS dentist."

2008年8月18日 星期一

Hedgehogs and Foxes: Character, Leadership, and Command in Organizations, by Abraham Zaleznik

The Inner Life of Leaders

Executive Summary:

"Even when leaders try to hide and disguise their character, their traits are recognizable to others," says HBS professor emeritus Abraham Zaleznik. His new book, Hedgehogs and Foxes: Character, Leadership, and Command in Organizations, explores the internal complexities of people in control. Plus: Book excerpt. Key concepts include:

  • Hedgehogs know one big thing while foxes know many things.
  • Applied to leadership, hedgehogs reduce reality to one single principle, while foxes are prepared to adapt to a complex view of the world.
  • An individual's character is outwardly represented while it is a product of development, starting with early childhood.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member Abraham Zaleznik

Abraham Zaleznik is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School.

To what extent does a leader's inner life affect his or her behavior and actions toward other people?

HBS professor emeritus Abraham Zaleznik, skilled in the practice of psychoanalysis and an admirer of the insights of Sigmund Freud, is well positioned to study the question. Zaleznik has authored or coauthored 15 books as well as the now-classic 1977 Harvard Business Review article "Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?" His latest book, Hedgehogs and Foxes: Character, Leadership, and Command in Organizations, explores motivation, decision making, and leadership skills as they progress in life and in business.

HBS Working Knowledge asked Zaleznik to reflect on the inner life of leaders.

Martha Lagace: Your book is an intellectual and introspective discussion of leadership that seems rare in the literature of leadership today. What motivated you to write the book, and how did you draw on your background in psychoanalysis to approach contemporary characters and issues in leadership?

Abraham Zaleznik: When I wrote my first book on the job of the foreman (1950), an observation and an idea took hold: Leaders have to achieve psychological independence to enable them to apply their talents to the work at hand. This independence frees the leader to expand on his or her talents and thereby become an object to allow subordinates to identify with and to cultivate and apply their own talents in the interests of meeting and even expanding on objectives.

Through years of research work, writing, and reading it became even clearer to me that I was on the edge of understanding and adopting two principles: Leaders need a healthy dose of narcissism to lead, and they also need a healthy dose of paranoia to avoid the trap of group dependency.

While all this was going on, in reflecting on my research and writing, I became absorbed in extensive reading in the social sciences, notably anthropology and above all psychoanalysis. I suppose I could be accused of hero worship when I read intensively and extensively the writings of Sigmund Freud, leading me to apply for candidacy in the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute and then applying for and being granted a waiver of medical and psychiatric prerequisites so that I could receive full training in clinical psychoanalysis. The American Psychoanalytic Association certified me for the practice of psychoanalysis in 1971.

Hedgehogs and Foxes is my 15th book. It is a study of leaders acting in a role but wittingly or unwittingly bringing to this enactment their character. An individual's character is outwardly represented while it is a product of development starting with early childhood. Even when leaders try to hide and disguise their character, their traits are recognizable to others.

Character is on display as leaders structure their organizations and go about making decisions. Some prefer to be intimately involved in the decision process. Others prefer to delegate early on and to remain at a distance from the give-and-take of reaching conclusions. For the research that led to writing Hedgehogs and Foxes, I relied on secondary sources, but focused on critical episodes.

For example, Dwight D. Eisenhower characteristically favored consensus and only reluctantly faced confrontation. The critical episode here was Eisenhower's difficulty during World War II in confronting Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, much to the exasperation of Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. Montgomery fought hard to convince Eisenhower that Eisenhower should remain in England and turn over command to him, with Patton and Bradley as subordinates. To the consternation of Patton and Bradley, Eisenhower first sought to placate Montgomery but finally confronted him when Montgomery failed to follow orders to play his part in the battle plans. An aide to Montgomery intervened and convinced Montgomery that instead of a stern letter, Eisenhower was on the verge of replacing him as commander of one of the armies.

Q: What do the hedgehog and fox metaphors mean in relation to the complexities of leadership?

A: The title of the book is a debt I owe to Isaiah Berlin, the British scholar. Berlin borrowed the notion from the ancient Greek philosophers that hedgehogs know one big thing while foxes know many things. Applied to leadership, hedgehogs reduce reality to one single principle, while foxes know many things and are prepared to adapt to a complex view of the world.

For example, behavioral psychologists have studied pigeons and found that once discovering randomly which button when pressed yielded a corn pellet, pigeons would repeat the act, a form of repetition compulsion. Unfortunately, leaders often become addicted to the compulsion to repeat in the present what succeeded in the past. Human affairs require adaptation and the avoidance of the repetition compulsion.

Q: Your book describes leadership dilemmas facing well-known individuals historically and currently, including Robert S. McNamara, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., and George W. Bush. Could you focus on just one individual and share with us briefly what fascinated you as a scholar of leadership?

A: In addition to the example above of Eisenhower and his reluctance to confront and instead rely on consensus, another example from the book concerns the education of Robert S. McNamara.

He was a brilliant student at the University of California and at Harvard Business School, where he became a member of the HBS faculty. McNamara was a devotee of managerial control, an expertise he applied in his work at the Ford Motor Company and later at the Department of Defense as secretary in President John F. Kennedy's cabinet.

His mantra was measurement. As secretary of defense, McNamara developed, along with key subordinates, including Robert Anthony of the HBS control faculty, long-range procurement cycles. He even tried to get the U.S. Navy to subscribe to a common aircraft for the three branches of the military. The Navy refused to go along, since this branch was concerned about aircraft operating from carriers.

McNamara urged field commanders in Vietnam to apply measurement to enemy losses, but did not realize until it was too late that the measurements were unreliable to assess enemy losses. The most reliable assessments came from correspondents like Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam. McNamara published a book years after he retired to reassess the Vietnam War and his role in it as secretary of defense. His main theme was the failure to examine critically the assumptions leading to U.S. involvement in this disaster. Editorial writers took no pains to spare McNamara's feelings.

The moral I took away from his story is to avoid the perils of the fox and its reliance on a single belief, in this case measurement, and the technology of control.

Q: You authored the 1977 Harvard Business Review article titled "Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?" As you think about business 31 years after that article appeared, do you see changes in the roles you described back then? What have you learned about leaders and managersin business today that encourages optimism, and what gives you concern?

A: Managers are oriented to process, while leaders are attuned to substance. Process is concerned with establishing procedures for solving problems, while substance deals directly with the problems at hand. Process is soon related to obsessive thinking and depressive emotional states, while substance energizes and draws on imaginative thinking. Managers tend instinctively to delegate; leaders like to get involved in working toward solutions to substantive problems.

The picture in business today (along with government) is bleak. The mantra today is to lay off workers and staff, cut costs to the bone. The American automobile industry may not survive as we have known this bellwether star in the industrial firmament. This industry is a prime example of the dangers of the repetition compulsion. I am in a pessimistic frame of mind, and I don't see change until after the U.S. presidential election, and we rid ourselves of the disastrous George W. Bush administration.

Q: How will you continue to explore the rich aspects of leadership that you have described in Hedgehogs and Foxes? What is your next project?

A: I just signed a contract with Palgrave Macmillan for a new edition of a book that I wrote in 1990, Executive's Guide to Motivating People: How Freudian Theory Can Turn Good Executives into Better Leaders. The book is an introduction to psychoanalytic theory and aims to help the executive develop psychological mindedness. It will be sent off to the publisher in December 2008. After that, I will work on two volumes of my collected papers. The first volume will be addressed to an academic audience and the second volume to an audience of practitioners. Both volumes are rich with ideas that have intrigued practitioners and academics, and together will stimulate the imagination of readers.

2008年8月16日 星期六


hc 改鄭兩拼寫

Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing which uses medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the brain's responses to marketing stimuli. Researchers use the fMRI to measure changes in activity in parts of the brain and to learn why consumers make the decisions they do, and what part of the brain is telling them to do it.

Marketing analysts will use neuromarketing to better measure a consumer's preference, as the verbal response given to the question "Do you like this product?" may not always be the true answer. This knowledge will help marketers create products and services designed more effectively and marketing campaigns focused more on the brain's response.

Neuromarketing will tell the marketer what the consumer reacts to, whether it was the color of the packaging, the sound the box makes when shaken, or the idea that they will have something their co-consumers do not.

The word "neuromarketing" was coined by Ale Smidts in 2002[1]


One of the main psychology principles behind marketing is the concept of priming. Priming a subject with a certain topic such as "dog" sets off an electrochemical reaction in the neural frameworks that code for dogs. Subsequent exposure to dog-related stimuli is processed faster because of the electrochemical priming.

Assimilation is the process by which new information is assimilated or incorporated into ones' existing neural structures. Advertising agencies know how important it is to repeat their messages so that priming and assimilation can take place. Priming usually occurs without the conscious awareness of the individual, even though the subsequent behavior of the individual may be altered by the priming.

Coke vs. Pepsi

In a study from the group of Read Montague, the director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, published in 2004 in Neuron[2], 67 people had their brains scanned while being given the "Pepsi Challenge", a blind taste test of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Half the subjects choose Pepsi, and Pepsi tended to produce a stronger response than Coke in the brain's ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a region thought to process feelings of reward. But when the subjects were told they were drinking Coke three-fourths said that Coke tasted better. Their brain activity had also changed. The lateral prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that scientists say governs high-level cognitive powers, and the hippocampus, an area related to memory, were now being used, indicating that the consumers were thinking about Coke and relating it to memories and other impressions. The results demonstrated that Pepsi should have half the market share, but in reality consumers are buying Coke for reasons related less to their taste preferences and more to their experience with the Coke brand. However, it should be noted that Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, and thus may do better in taste tests where only a small sample is given. Many people who prefer small amounts of Pepsi would probably rather consume an entire can of Coke to a can of Pepsi because people often grow tired of very sweet flavors.

See also



  1. ^ David Lewis & Darren Brigder (July/August 2005). "Market Researchers make Increasing use of Brain Imaging". Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation 5 (3): 35+.
  2. ^ Samuel M. McClure, Jian Li, Damon Tomlin, Kim S. Cypert, Latané M. Montague, and P. Read Montague (2004). "Neural Correlates of Behavioral Preference for Culturally Familiar Drinks". Neuron 44: 379–387.


External links

经济纵横 | 2008.08.16



对一名测试人进行观察并用脑电图做显示发现,如果他做决定是否购一份音乐作品时,价格从原先的1元降到了43分,他很快便做出购买的决定, 这是,脑电图显示出他特别强的快感。如果价格不是从1元下降的,而是从50分,测试者做决定需要的时间便长些,购买后的快感也相对小些。于是,在现实生活 中,你会在商店里到处看到一个商品标价时,总是原价也写在那里,为的是让人们看到原价同现价之间的区别,买起来更易下手,买后更有快感。






2008年8月15日 星期五

新證據力挺供應學派理論 wsj


Keith Marsden

世紀80年代初﹐羅納德•里根(Ronald Reagan)採納了一小批供應學派(Supply-Sider)經濟學家的觀點。這些學者認為﹐減稅與精簡政府能夠刺激經濟增長﹐鼓勵進取與努力工作﹐提高儲蓄與投資水平。這些觀點當時遭到了普遍嘲笑﹐甚至被嗤之以“巫毒經濟學”的惡名。



我今年在倫敦政策研究中心(Centre for Policy Studies)發表了一篇題為《Big, Not Better﹖》的研究報告﹐回顧分析了20個國家和地區政府在過去20年的表現。



根據經濟合作與發展組織(Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 簡稱OECD)、國際貨幣基金組織(IMF)以及世界銀行(World Bank)公佈的數據﹐過去10年左右的時間﹐大多數國家政府都下調了最高稅率﹐降低了財政支出佔GDP的比重。但小政府國家在這方面進展更為迅速﹐成效也更為明顯。這些國家的平均個人所得稅最高稅率從1996年的36%一路降低到2006年的30%。相應地﹐同期企業稅最高稅率也從30%調降至22%的平均水平。這10個國家財政總支出佔GDP的平均比重也從此前20年的平均最高水平40.4%降到了2007年的31.6%。




而且﹐大政府國家的財政預算也未能實現平衡。2006年﹐這些國家的預算赤字佔GDP比例平均達到1.1%﹐而小政府國家則實現了佔GDP 0.3%的預算盈餘。當年﹐大政府國家淨政府債務平均佔GDP的39.2%﹐這一比例比小政府的四倍還高。大政府10國的債務利息支出平均佔GDP的2.3%﹐而小政府10國的這一比例僅為0.5%。









(編者按﹕Marsden是倫敦政策研究中心的會員。他此前曾是世界銀行的顧問﹐並在國際勞工組織(International Labour Organization)擔任過高級經濟學家。)

Think Deeply?

Why Don't Managers Think Deeply?

Summing Up

A since deceased, highly-regarded fellow faculty member, Anthony (Tony) Athos, occasionally sat on a bench on a nice day at the Harvard Business School, apparently staring off into space. When asked what he was doing, ever the iconoclast, he would say, "Nothing." His colleagues, trained to admire and teach action, would walk away shaking their heads and asking each other, "Is he alright?" It is perhaps no coincidence that Tony often came up with some of the most profound insights at faculty meetings and informal gatherings.

This story captures much of the sense of the responses to this month's question about why managers don't think deeply. The list of causes was much longer than the list of proposed responses. But in the process, some other questions were posed.

Ben Kirk kicked off the list of reasons for the phenomenon when he commented, "… what rises to the top levels are very productive and very diligent individuals who tend not to … reflect and are extremely efficient at deploying other people's ideas," implying that this type of leader is not likely to understand, encourage, or recognize deep thinking in others.

Adnan Younis added the possibility that "… managers are not trained for it." Dianne Jacobs cited the possibility that persisting assumptions borne out of success serve as "roadblocks to act on needed change" (proposed by those who engage in deep thinking?).

Ulysses U. Pardey, whose comment triggered my recollection of Tony Athos, wrote that "Time-for-thinking is a special moment which can be resource consuming and an unsafe activity …" (Fortunately, Athos held a tenured position in an academic organization.)

A number of comments alluded to the triumph of bureaucracies and large organizations over deep thinking. As Lorre Zuppan said, "I think Jeff Immelt's efforts to protect deep thinking reflect a nice sentiment but … If his team could carry the ball, would he need to announce that he's protecting it?" Tom Henkel was more succinct: "There's a name for managers who think deeply—entrepreneurs … Big companies are no place for big thinkers."

Providing time to reflect, particularly in an era of multi-tasking and the tyranny of technology, was most frequently suggested as an antidote to the dearth of deep thinking. As Chris Shannon put it, "I think creatively better out of the office, say while out in the boat or at a conference, so that looks very much like not working!!" Among other things, Krishna Sripad suggested fostering "an environment where transformation is 'truly' valued" by institutionalizing it and "setting aside a percentage of employee time" for it. Edward Hare proposes that organizations might "understand who their deep thinkers are and then make absolutely certain that they're in a position to take advantage of their rather unique capabilities."

Rob Smorfitt states that for many managers, "it (deep thinking) needs to be learned." This raises the question of whether it can be taught. Frances Pratt comments, "To get deep we must be deep." The issue is complicated by uncertainties about just what "deep thinking" is—pursuing "all possible threads, options" (Ganesh Ram), "adopting another's point of view" (E. Forrest Christian), something "hard and painful" (Phil Clark)?

Just what is it that should be taught? Does this have any place in a business school curriculum? If so, how should it be approached? What do you think?

Original Article

Jeffrey Immelt, GE's CEO, has received a lot of publicity recently for fostering "imagination breakthroughs" by encouraging managers to think deeply about innovations that will ensure GE's longer-term success. He has vowed that he will protect those working on the breakthroughs from the "budget slashers" focused on short-term success. Questions that this effort raises include: (1) Why so much publicity? (2) Isn't "deep thinking" what leaders are paid to do? and (3) Why do these kinds of effort require so much protection?

In their new book, Marketing Metaphoria, Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman suggest some answers to the questions. In decrying the lack of what they call "deep thinking" among managers and especially those responsible for marketing, they suggest some things that get in its way. Among them are: (1) reluctance to take risk, especially when short-term performance is at stake, (2) the fear of disruption resulting from "thinking differently and deeply," (3) the potential psychological cost of changing one's mind resulting from deep thinking, and (4) the lack of information providing deep insights on which to base deep thinking.

According to the Zaltmans, while nearly all research techniques commonly used today probe humans only at their conscious level, the subconscious (offering deep insights) really determines behavior, and that explains why humans don't behave as they say they will, whether in buying or other behaviors. As a result, for example, four in five product introductions perform below expectations.

The Zaltmans expand on ideas they have been studying for some years, namely that strategies of all kinds can be based on insights gained from listening in a disciplined way for metaphors that relatively small numbers of people (consumers, managers, public servants, etc.) use in the course of extended, probing interviews. In these interviews, the object is to use "surface metaphors," like "I am drowning in debt," to identify "metaphor themes," like "Money is like liquid," and the associated "deep metaphor," in this case "resource." They claim that just seven deep metaphors—balance (equilibrium), transformation (changing states or status), journey (as in life), container (keeping things in and keeping things out), connection (feelings of belonging or exclusion), resource (providing survival), and control—describe 70 percent of our inner feelings. The objective is to find deep metaphors that individuals share in common (a true market segment or a basis for resolving a confIict) rather than differences. If we would just take the time to explore them we would be able to realize such things as more substantial, farsighted, successful new product introductions (such as the hybrid auto ten years ago at Toyota); more successful conflict resolution; and more significant innovation, à la GE, in general.

This raises several questions: Have the Zaltmans hit on a basic problem of leadership and management today? Are there appropriate responses other than the one that GE is pursuing? What is your organization doing to combat the absence of deep thinking in decision-making? What are you doing to combat it in thinking about your own life inside and outside the organization? What do you think?

To read more: Gerald Zaltman and Lindsay H. Zaltman, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2008); Gerald Zaltman, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2003)

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2008年8月6日 星期三

On Day Care, Google Makes a Rare Fumble

Talking Business

On Day Care, Google Makes a Rare Fumble

Published: July 5, 2008

Correction Appended

Two months ago, Google held a series of secret focus groups with employees who have children in Google’s day care facilities. The purpose was to gauge their reaction to the company’s plan to raise the amount it charged for in-house day care by 75 percent.

Parents who had been paying $1,425 a month for infant care would see their costs rise to nearly $2,500 — well above the market rate. For parents with toddlers and preschoolers, who were charged less, the price increases were equally eye-popping. Under the new plan, parents with two kids in Google day care would most likely see their annual day care bill grow to more than $57,000 from around $33,000.

At the first of the three focus groups, parents wept openly. As word leaked out about the company’s plan, the Google parents began to fight back. They came up with ideas to save money, used the company’s T.G.I.F. sessions — a weekly meeting for anyone who wanted to ask questions of Google’s top executives — to plead their case, and conducted surveys showing that most parents with children in Google day care would have to leave Google’s facilities and find less expensive child care.

Do you think you know how this story ends? You’re probably guessing that because it involves “do no evil” Google, Fortune magazine’s “Best Company to Work For” the past two years, this is a heart-warming tale of a good company reversing a dumb decision.

If only. Although Google is rolling back its price increase slightly and is phasing in the higher price over five quarters, the outline of the original decision remains largely unchanged. At a T.G.I.F. in June, the Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he had no sympathy for the parents, and that he was tired of “Googlers” who felt entitled to perks like “bottled water and M&Ms,” according to several people in the meeting. (A Google spokesman denies that Mr. Brin made that comment.) On Monday, Google began the first phase of its new day care plan, letting go of the outside day care firm it had been using.

In recent months, Google has hit the first rough patch in its short, magical life as a public company. From November to April, Google’s once high-flying stock dropped 44 percent, to $412 from $744. (It has since gained some of that back, closing on Thursday at $537.) It may be a stretch to equate the day care fiasco with the fall in Google’s stock. But maybe not.

When a stock was rising as fast as Google’s once was, it was easy to buy the view that there was something truly special about Google. But when the stock is falling, overlooked problems start to loom large. Having discovered that Google is not, in fact, the promised land, a number of Googlers have left recently to join start-ups, hotter companies like Facebook — and even Microsoft.

“There are many things about Google that are not great, and merit improvement,” blogged Sergey Solyanik, who recently returned to Microsoft after a stint at Google. “There are plenty of silly politics, underperformance, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness, and things that are plain stupid.” Starting, it would appear, with day care.

Google first began offering day care three and a half years ago, and perhaps it is only coincidence that this occurred not long after a woman named Susan Wojcicki returned to the company from maternity leave. Ms. Wojcicki is a figure of significant stature at Google; hers was the garage that Mr. Brin and Google’s other founder, Larry Page, rented while starting up Google. Today she is the company’s vice president for product management, though as I discovered in talking to unhappy Google parents this week, not many Googlers seem to know what her exact duties entail. Everybody, however, knows that she’s Mr. Brin’s sister-in-law.

From the start, Ms. Wojcicki has been a passionate advocate for Google’s day care efforts, though there is some dispute about how much decision-making authority she has. Parents who know her point out that the company’s day care approach is very much aligned with her views; for its part, a Google spokesman insists that “these decisions were not made by her; they were made by the executive management team.”

Google’s first facility, called the Kinderplex, was run by the Childrens’ Creative Learning Centers, or C.C.L.C., which, according to its Web site, offers “learning in a play-based, developmentally appropriate environment that incorporates a variety of activities and multicultural aspects in a thematic style.” That sounds perfect for Silicon Valley, doesn’t it? One of C.C.L.C.’s longtime Silicon Valley clients, Electronic Arts, sent me an e-mail statement telling me how happy it has been with C.C.L.C.’s services.

According to Google, there were numerous complains about C.C.L.C., but the Google parents I spoke to disagree. They say that at the Kinderplex, child-teacher ratios were low, teachers were first-rate, the facility was clean and upbeat, and the food — organic, naturally — was terrific.

But at least one parent wasn’t happy: Ms. Wojcicki. She is a proponent of a preschool philosophy called Reggio Emilia, the hot kiddie philosophy of the moment, which stresses even small children’s ability to chart their own learning paths.

A year after the Kinderplex opened, Google opened its second day care center, called the Woods, which Google ran itself. The Woods was an expensive undertaking; in terms of the square footage per child, the aesthetics of its toys, and the college degrees of its teachers, it put the Kinderplex to shame. It also used the Reggio Emilia philosophy.

With the Woods open, Google decided to upgrade the Kinderplex to match the salaries and the teacher-student ratios of the Woods. Google now had 200 day care spots — and such wonderful day care at that! — and was promoting this new perk as a recruiting tool. The company was growing like crazy — its work force now numbers 19,000 — its young employees were starting to have babies, and well, you can just picture what happened next. The wait list ballooned insanely, finally reaching over 700 people. New employees who arrived at Google thinking they were getting in-house day care were stunned to discover that it could take up to two years to land a coveted spot.

Meanwhile, someone at Google woke up one day and realized that the company was subsidizing each child to the tune of $37,000 a year — which nobody had noticed up until then — compared with the $12,000-a-year average subsidy of other big Silicon Valley companies like Cisco Systems and Oracle. Faced with this dilemma, Google decided that the way to solve the dual problems of a too-long wait list and a too-large subsidy was — are you sitting down for this? — to get rid of C.C.L.C. and make the Kinderplex more like the Woods! (Google says it was always planning to replace C.C.L.C.) Given that decision, the only possible way to reduce the subsidy was to raise prices through the roof.

If you are shaking your head at this point, that’s because you lack the proper understanding of Google’s culture. Having conquered the Internet, Google’s executives tend to believe that they can do pretty much everything better than everybody else — even day care. When I spoke to Laszlo Bock, the company’s vice president for “people operations” (a k a human relations), he told me that “what is really driving the cost is eliminating the two-year wait list while focusing on providing really high quality.”

Google can’t just have low teacher-child ratios — it has to have the lowest of anybody. Its teachers have to be the best. Its toys have to be the most advanced. If it costs a lot of money to provide the Greatest Day Care on Earth, well, that’s life.

Plus, the high price of Google day care solves the waiting list problem. Indeed, getting the waiting list down was a huge priority for Google; the spokesman told me that forcing people to wait two years for day care was “inequitable.” And maybe it is.

But parents who talked to me said that several times during the six-week-long day care brouhaha, Mr. Brin made comments indicating that he viewed the whole thing as a giant economics experiment. “This is a supply-and-demand issue,” he told one group of parents — adding that Google needed to charge what the market would bear. (Through a Google spokesman, Mr. Brin denies making such a statement.) Given that Google has lots of pre-I.P.O. millionaires, it can clearly charge a lot.

Indeed, at one meeting, Ms. Wojcicki, a multimillionaire herself, told the parents that she planned to keep her own children in Google day care, despite the higher cost. “I’ve had firsthand experience with the great care provided by these centers and I want as many other parents as possible to have access to it,” Ms. Wojcicki noted in an e-mail message.

Google has also started charging people several hundred dollars to stay on the waiting list; as a result the list has dropped to around 300 parents. By next fall, Google plans to open new facilities with another 300 places. See? No more waiting list.

Google, I should note, believes that it has handled the day care issue in a “Googly” way and object strongly to the criticism by the parents. The company points out that the prices are somewhat lower than originally planned, that it is expanding its day care operation, that its facilities will be state of the art and that it will be giving scholarships to parents who can’t afford to keep their children in Google day care. (Although yet to release the details of the scholarship plan, the company says that employees will have to show proof of household income to qualify.)

But here’s the real problem: providing day care isn’t an economics experiment, nor should it be just another Google perk, alongside organic food and free M&Ms. Day care matters to people’s lives in a way that few other perks do. There are many people in this country — including, I’ll bet, many Googlers — who believe that employer-provided day care, at affordable prices, ought to be like health insurance, a benefit that every company provides as a matter of course. Yet as the technology blog Valleywag noted recently, Google doesn’t even advertise day care as a benefit for its employees anymore. That’s the real shame.

Google may be providing the greatest day care ever, but so what? It doesn’t matter how good the day care is if only its wealthiest employees can afford to use it. If Google had really wanted to do something path-breaking about its day care crisis, it would have spent less time creating elitist day care centers and more time figuring out how to “scale” day care for everybody no matter what their salaries.

Instead, Google has shown that it thinks about day care the same way every other company does — as a luxury, not a benefit. Judging by what’s transpired, that’s what Google is fast becoming: just another company.

E-mail: nocera@nytimes.com

Correction: July 10, 2008
The Talking Business column on Saturday, about Google’s day care center, misstated the title of Susan Wojcicki, who has been an advocate for the company’s day care efforts. She is vice president for product management, not product measurement.

汪曾祺 尾巴 (艾子雜說*)

汪曾祺 尾巴 (艾子雜說*)

汪曾祺 尾巴(極短篇小說,1983年 汪曾祺全集二 pp.67-8 )








*艾子雜說一卷 拼音題名:Aizi za shuo 所屬叢書:五朝小説 撰著者:()蘇軾撰 出版/刻印:毛氏汲古閣 出版年:明末 出版年(公元)1628-1639

2008年8月5日 星期二

For Leaders, Colleges Turn to Business

For Leaders, Colleges Turn to Business

Universities are hiring experienced corporate managers to cope with schools' growing size, complexity—and funding difficulties

This is the first of a multi-part BusinessWeek series on the business of colleges.

Call Steve Spinelli a businessman, or call him an academic. Either way, you're right. His career is split evenly between the two fields: 15 years in the business world as a member of the team that founded Jiffy Lube (RDSA) and 15 years as a professor of management at Babson College, during which time he earned tenure and the title of vice-provost. For anyone else, this would amount to a pretty good career, but not for Spinelli. Last September he accepted the position of president at Philadelphia University. He figured the job would be equal parts business and academia, but what he found surprised him.

After a week on the job, Spinelli saw that running a university was more like his experiences at Jiffy Lube than at Babson. "I was able to approach it like a business," he says.

Spinelli isn't the only one who has come to this realization. As higher education becomes more and more complex, especially on the funding side, many colleges—including the University of Missouri system, Oberlin College, the University of Kentucky, and Harvard—are turning to the corporate world for help, specifically to fill high-profile leadership positions. But given the sometimes strained relationship between the two worlds, this kind of change comes with a few hurdles.

Corporate-Style Structure

The main reason for the shift to corporate hires is that higher education's business model is changing rapidly, especially at public universities. State funding decreases more and more each year, and state schools are being forced to look elsewhere to meet budgets. Many times, this means partnerships with the business world. Moreover, today's university is structured a lot like a corporation. —Universities are complicated businesses," says Paul Osterman, an expert in work organization at companies and a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management. "You need a good HR department, IT, construction, someone to manage the portfolio. You need someone with a business background running these operations."

In Spinelli's view, the trend is here to stay. "This change is continuous, and it's not going away," he says. "If we don't deal with it, we're in trouble."

Historically, academia and business have mixed like oil and water. The rule was to keep business talk in the business school. Lately, though, the old conflict has moved front and center as schools have started hiring corporate executives to be president or dean, positions traditionally reserved for members of the faculty. Some schools report more acceptance of business in academia, but it's still a long way to complete harmony. "The conflicts are self-evident," Osterman says. "You have the academic culture vs. the business culture. The leadership styles are very different." Osterman explains that while the academic mindset centers on such things as earning tenure or investing in research, the corporate side focuses on efficient management and growth. "There are trade-offs on both sides," he says.

Winning Over Faculty

When former Sprint-Nextel (S) CEO Gary Forsee accepted the position of president at the University of Missouri last fall, he knew that getting the faculty and administration on his side was crucial. "I came in early and wanted to dispel any animosity," Forsee says. To do this, he used the 45 days before taking office to get up to speed, visiting the four campuses, meeting with faculty and alumni groups, explaining his goals, and asking for help. "I know I have a steep learning curve. I wanted to make sure that they understood that I'm their loudest advocate," he says.

Lucky for Forsee and others in similar positions, it's not as tough a sell as it was, say, a decade ago. "The times have changed," says Judith B. McLaughlin, director of the Higher Education Program at Harvard. "The higher-ed community is more accepting now of people with [a business] skill set." But reassuring faculty still poses a major challenge to individuals taking on these high-profile positions. "They have to bring what they know to a world they don't know, and they have to find a way to make that work successfully," she says. "In the best cases, these marriages are enormously successful, but there is always the possibility for disaster."

Robert J. Birgeneau, chancellor of University of California at Berkeley, is aware of the pitfalls, but he is willing to take the risk. In his four years guiding the elite public university, Birgeneau says he has "professionalized" the staff. "A university is a very complicated business enterprise," he says. "Rather than use people who have spent most of their careers as academics, we need the kind of expertise you find in a major corporation."

Finance Help From Wall Street

His recent actions reflect this sentiment. Last month, Birgeneau announced the hiring of Frank D. Yeary, a longtime executive at Citigroup (C), to take a new vice-chancellor position. Yeary's assignment: to develop a financial plan that establishes more stable funding for the university. "We're looking to produce a financial model that is less vulnerable to fluctuations in state funding," Birgeneau says. No small task, considering that the school's budget is $1.7 billion this year, with money coming from a wide range of sources. But Yeary says he's up to the challenge. "There is an enormous amount to work with," he says. "I'm convinced that the skills and relationships I've developed over the past 25 years will be very useful."

Just as Berkeley hired Yeary, Harvard recently tapped Goldman Sachs (GS) executive Edward C. Forst to fill a newly created executive vice-president position. Forst's main job is to oversee finance, administration, and human resources, reporting directly to Harvard's president, Drew Gilpin Faust. While a new post at Harvard, executive vice-presidencies have existed at a handful of Ivy League schools for years. Columbia, Princeton, and MIT, among others, have similar back-office positions held by former corporate executives.

Philadelphia's Spinelli expects the trend of business people moving into academia will continue, especially as universities find the right blend between the two. "I think higher education, as an industry, is still figuring this out," he says. "Does it have to be the president who has the business experience? Can it be the provost or the chief operating officer?" These are questions that many universities are asking. But in Spinelli's mind, just the fact that schools are considering it is good for the future of higher education.

Gloeckler is a staff editor for BusinessWeek in New York.

2008年8月4日 星期一

美國生產率 (力)反常增長

美國生產率 (力)反常增長

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佐治亞州立大學(Georgia State University)的預測專家拉吉夫•達萬(Rajeev Dhawan)說﹐這種情況不符合生產率通常在經濟發展繁榮時期出現增長、經濟不景氣時下降的常態。


但Macroeconomic Advisers的克里斯•瓦爾瓦瑞斯(Chris Varvares)說﹐這也是把雙刃劍﹐因為效率的提高意味著公司可以減少工人數量﹐從而在短期內加劇失業狀況。


哈佛大學的生產率專家戴爾•喬根生(Dale Jorgenson)說﹐這是個綜合問題。他解釋說﹐建築行業的生產率低下﹐因此最近幾個季度建築業在經濟中所佔比重的下滑肯定有助於平均生產率的提高。

不管原因如何﹐Fed已經注意到生產率的強勁增長。Fed主席貝南克(Ben Bernanke)最近在國會作證時說﹐在一片混亂之中﹐美國的勞動生產率的增速依然高於幾乎所有其他發達國家﹐這一點意義重大﹐顯示了經濟的強勁程度。


曾 擔任克林頓總統的經濟顧問委員會主席、現供職於布魯金斯研究所(Brookings Institution)的馬丁•貝利(Martin Baily)說﹐有人擔心趨勢生產力是否被抬高了。最近一段時期的情況表明﹐美國經濟依然表現良好﹐實質趨勢生產率每年增長2%至2.5%。大多數經濟學 家預計﹐隨著嬰兒潮一代退休﹐年度勞動力增長將出現滑坡﹐而上述情況有助於抵消勞動力增長滑坡的影響﹐令經濟增長速度的上限在引發通脹前達到接近3%的水 平。





該論文的合著者之一、任教於達特茅斯學院(Dartmouth College)的安德魯•伯納德(Andrew Bernard)說﹐當出口相對強勁時﹐就意味著製造和服務行業生產率最高的公司正在實現增長﹐而這會推動總體的生產率增長。




與 上世紀70年代的情況不同﹐最近的能源價格上漲不太可能抑制生產率。佐治亞州立大學的達萬和幾位亞特蘭大聯邦儲備銀行(Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)的經濟學家在最近的一份報告中指出﹐以全要素生產率衡量﹐1982年之前﹐較高的能源價格會對生產率產生負面影響﹐但這種效應已經消失。


Brian Blackstone

Yahoo Is Still Searching for, Well, Yahoo

Yahoo Is Still Searching for, Well, Yahoo

Published: August 3, 2008


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Terrence McCarthy for The New York Times

Jerry Yang, the chief executive of Yahoo. Many are questioning his leadership, but he says he is best suited to move the company forward.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

Jerry Yang, center, with the Google co-founders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin at the Allen & Company conference last month in Idaho. The rival companies have an ad partnership.

JERRY YANG, the soft-spoken chief executive of Yahoo, rarely becomes animated, at least in public. But ask him about his company’s lackluster performance over the past year, and he will begin to pound the table — albeit ever so lightly — punctuating his answer with a dose of impatience.

“We have a plan,” Mr. Yang said in an interview last week at Yahoo’s headquarters here. “We want to grow the business over a three- to five-year period. We are executing against that plan. And we are still doing that despite all the stuff that’s happened to us.”

All the stuff that’s happened, of course, refers to the turbulence that has engulfed Yahoo since Jan. 31, when Microsoft made an unsolicited takeover bid. At the time, conventional wisdom was that Microsoft and its hard-charging C.E.O., Steven A. Ballmer, would quickly swallow the company.

But Mr. Yang has emerged as an unlikely survivor — at least for now. He beat back Mr. Ballmer, whose offers to buy all or part of Yahoo were considered inadequate by Mr. Yang and his board. And he rebuffed Carl C. Icahn, the activist shareholder, who tried to seize control of Yahoo but settled for three seats on an expanded board.

Even so, the question remains whether Mr. Yang is the right man for the job.

Many shareholders are furious with him. With the stock trading at about $20, far below the $33 a share Microsoft offered in May, the failed merger negotiations have cost Yahoo investors nearly $20 billion. “I think they had an opportunity to get something done in the palm of their hand, and they bungled it,” said Eric Jackson following the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday.

Mr. Jackson is part of an individual shareholder group that collectively holds about 3.2 million Yahoo shares. On Friday, investors controlling about 15 percent of the shares represented at the meeting voted against Mr. Yang’s re-election to the board — signifying lingering concerns about his leadership.

Mr. Yang says he understands shareholders’ frustrations. But he says Yahoo was willing to sell itself at the right price and blames Microsoft for the breakdown in talks.

For now, he says he’s looking forward to giving his full attention to Yahoo and transforming it into the most popular “starting point” for Internet users. The company says it’s also developing a powerful new advertising system that can place ads on Yahoo and other sites across the Internet.

“I am more determined and more excited than ever to see those changes through,” he said.

For many shareholders, the idea that Mr. Yang and his team are changing Yahoo for the better is little more than an illusion.

“These guys are just drinking their own Kool-Aid,” said Mark Nelson, a co-founder of Mithras Capital, which owns about 1.7 million Yahoo shares. “They don’t get it. They don’t understand the realities of their business.”

MR. NELSON’S comments echo the views of many shareholders and analysts who say that under Mr. Yang, a co-founder of Yahoo in 1994, the company has done little to restore its competitive position with respect to Google. They say Yahoo has been indecisive, resulting in incremental changes.

Yahoo’s results have continued to disappoint. Revenue grew 6 percent in the most recent quarter versus the same period last year, far slower than Google’s 39 percent. And Yahoo’s stock has continued a steady slide that began in January 2006 under Terry S. Semel, then the chief executive. The shares are down about 27 percent, near a four-year low, since Mr. Yang took over 13 months ago. In the same period, the Nasdaq has lost 11 percent.

It is not clear that Mr. Yang will get the time he needs to carry out his plan. Microsoft could bid anew for Yahoo or, more likely, its search business. If it does, shareholder pressure on Yahoo to do a deal is certain to be intense. And Yahoo counts Mr. Icahn, and soon, two of his allies, on its 11-member board.

Mr. Icahn did not return calls seeking comment. Writing on his blog on Thursday, he said he hoped to work with Mr. Yang to enhance value. But before he cut a deal on July 21 to join the Yahoo board, he favored both selling Yahoo’s search business to Microsoft and removing Mr. Yang.

Yahoo’s chairman, Roy Bostock, however, said the board has no plans to replace its C.E.O. “I have absolute confidence in Jerry and the management,” he said in an interview last week.

At last year’s annual meeting, Mr. Semel vowed to remain in place, with the board’s backing. He stepped down a week later.

Mr. Yang’s appointment as chief executive brought hope to Yahoo employees and shareholders. Under Mr. Semel, the company had become slow and bureaucratic. It had failed to jump on Internet trends like online video and social networking. Most important, it was falling further behind Google in the lucrative online search business.

As a founder, Mr. Yang, a polite and consummate “nice guy,” was well liked inside Yahoo. An engineer with a keen vision of where the Internet was heading, he was seen upon becoming C.E.O. as having a shot at reviving a company that by many measures remains one of the most successful businesses on the Internet. With some 500 million users worldwide, Yahoo is one of the Web’s most visited sites, as well as the top Web e-mail service, and runs top-ranked news, sports and finance sites.

It remains No. 2 in search and is the largest seller of banners and other graphical ads online.

Even last year, some questioned Mr. Yang’s lack of operational experience. Unlike Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other successful tech entrepreneurs who remained at the helm of the companies they founded, Mr. Yang and the co-founder David Filo recognized early on that they didn’t have the skills to run Yahoo. They took the titles of “chief Yahoos” and hired others — Tim Koogle first, and Mr. Semel later — to run the company. Mr. Yang acted as a strategic adviser, while Mr. Filo worked on technology.

After 13 years in the wings, Mr. Yang, 39, said last year that he finally felt prepared to run Yahoo.

But critics say he has been slow to make tough and necessary choices. For instance, Yahoo pursued an advertising partnership with Google, which many investors had long recommended, only after Microsoft made its bid. And they say Mr. Yang and his team have been more focused on plotting new strategies than on carrying them out.

Shortly after taking over, Mr. Yang began a 100-day strategic review of Yahoo’s business. He promised investors that there would be “no sacred cows,” raising expectations that he would finally narrow the focus of a company that was trying to be all things to all people on the Web.

He appeared to back the imperative to trim some of Yahoo’s products and services. To emphasize the point, he invited Mr. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, to give a talk to Yahoo’s approximately 300 vice presidents last September.

Looking back at his 1996 return to Apple, Mr. Jobs spoke of his recipe for reviving it. That recipe included painful cuts — from 16 product lines to 4 — to restore financial health. Mr. Jobs also advised Yahoo executives to keep a reserve of “dry powder” to be able to seize new opportunities, as Apple eventually did with the iPod.

Many current and former Yahoo executives, who agreed to speak only on condition that they remain anonymous for fear of compromising their jobs or relationships, said Mr. Jobs’s talk was inspirational. But those executives said Mr. Yang did not follow Mr. Jobs’s prescription. The Yahoo chief charged a group of executives with identifying projects that could be cut. But when the group made its recommendations, including closing a long list of properties like OMG.com and television and education sites, Mr. Yang stalled, according to the current and former executives.

Then, in late January, he stunned Wall Street, saying that 2008 profits would be lower as Yahoo planned to invest heavily in a new display advertising system and a project to rewire the company’s technological underpinnings. Investors did not think that Yahoo had the dry powder to fire.

“They kind of shot themselves in the foot,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Citigroup. “They surprised Wall Street with this major investment initiative. If they had announced it coming out of the 100-day review it would have been more tolerated.”

Mr. Yang’s announcement sent Yahoo shares down nearly 10 percent, giving Microsoft an opening. The next day, he received an urgent call. It was Mr. Ballmer, to alert him that the next morning, Microsoft would make public its bid for Yahoo.

Failing to anticipate Wall Street’s reaction was “naïve” and “left Yahoo exposed to Microsoft,” a Yahoo executive said.

MR. YANG dismissed the criticism, saying that he had no control over the timing of Microsoft’s actions and that the investments are necessary.

His cachet with some of his top lieutenants, meanwhile, was eroding. A series of corporate reorganizations engineered by Susan L. Decker, Yahoo’s president, created instability, leading to a long list of departures of senior staff members. Ms. Decker and Mr. Yang defend the reorganizations as necessary to make Yahoo more responsive.

Some executives still with the company say they are dismayed that two new projects, called Aikido and Judo, amount to yet another round of strategy meetings aimed at re-evaluating Yahoo’s investments in its consumer and advertising businesses.

“It kind of implies a lack of confidence in the plan that’s out there,” one senior executive said.

With the fights with Mr. Icahn and Microsoft over, at least for now, some Yahoo employees say Mr. Yang has appeared more upbeat and confident.

He laughed at that observation, saying it probably says more about the mood of Yahoo than about any change in himself. Employees are more upbeat because Yahoo hit its financial projections for two quarters, despite the turmoil and a slow economy, Mr. Yang said. And Yahoo has delivered a long list of projects, he said, like improvements to its search offerings and an early version of its new advertising system.

For investors, a vital question is whether Mr. Yang’s plan to expand Yahoo can ever deliver the kind of value that Microsoft offered. Many of Yahoo’s largest shareholders wanted to sell the company to Microsoft. But they are divided over whether Yahoo or Microsoft should be blamed for the failed negotiations.

A turning point came on May 3 at a meeting in Seattle. Mr. Ballmer had just raised Microsoft’s offer to $33 a share, or $47.5 billion. Mr. Yang said the board wanted $37 a share.

The Yahoo team expected that the meeting would be the beginning of serious talks. But Mr. Ballmer said Yahoo’s counteroffer was a sign it was not interested in a deal. An hour after Mr. Yang returned to California, Mr. Ballmer called to say he was withdrawing Microsoft’s offer.

Yahoo has since said it would consider a sale at around $33 a share. Microsoft has insisted it’s no longer interested. Instead, it has tried to buy Yahoo’s search business. Yahoo has said those offers were not in shareholders’ best interest.

The companies blame each other for the failure. “Right from the beginning we were open to doing a deal,” said Mr. Bostock, the Yahoo chairman. “It was simply a matter of getting the right price and getting the deal terms negotiated. They started backing off early on in the process.”

Microsoft sees it differently. “Microsoft diligently pursued a proposed acquisition from the day we made our offer on Jan. 31 to the day we withdrew it on May 3,” Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said by e-mail. But Yahoo’s management and board failed to engage in meaningful negotiations for weeks, Mr. Smith added. Some shareholders are predicting — or perhaps merely hoping — that one way or another, Mr. Yang will take the fall for the failed deal.

“My belief is that if within a month or two there isn’t something transforming in the works, the major shareholders will put enough pressure on the company that he will be forced out,” said Mr. Nelson at Mithras Capital.