经济学人:管理合伙人制 选举新老板
日期:2014-08-29 15:49



Governing partnerships
Electing the boss
Deloitte prepares to vote for a new CEO
EVER since the inception of the corporation, the “principal-agent” problem has bedevilled shareholders. The partnership structure that prevails at consulting, accounting and law firms is supposedly free of the risk of executives acting in their own interest at the owners'expense. As the businesses belong to the employees, the incentives of managers and proprietors should be aligned. But leaders there must pay greater heed to the views of their worker-shareholders than do corporate bosses, who need only answer to boards selected by proxy votes that are rarely contested, and can simply issue orders to staff.

This distinction is never more apparent than when the head of a partnership steps down. They will be dusting off the ballot boxes at Deloitte, the biggest of the “Big Four” global accounting firms. On August 15th Joe Echevarria, the boss of the American arm, said he would be leaving the firm. Rather than summon an executive-search agency to do some discreet recruiting, Deloitte will hold a leadership election.
The firm does not disclose the mechanics of the process. But most partnerships form a nomination committee on their executive boards to assess candidates on both their visions for the firm and how much support they command from peers. After a series of informal consultations with fellow partners, the committee delicately advises likely losers to bow out gracefully. If these “soundings” yield a clear-cut heir apparent, the firm may proceed straight to a coronation vote where the new leader is rubber-stamped.
If there are a few strong contenders, the process starts to resemble a political campaign. Candidates often write manifestos outlining their plans, and occasionally address the electorate at annual partners'meetings. Behind the scenes, horse-trading abounds, as the candidates promise juicy posts to influential partners who can deliver a block of support from colleagues. Each partner usually gets one vote, regardless of their equity stake.
The race to succeed Mr Echevarria is likely to be hotly contested. Under his stewardship since 2011, Deloitte has grown impressively. In the first two years of his term, revenues at its American arm rose from $11.9 billion to $13.9 billion. The other members of the Big Four—EY, PwC and KPMG—sold their consulting arms after the Enron scandal and have since had to rebuild them from scratch. Deloitte stayed in consulting and Mr Echevarria has pushed that side of the business.
Since consulting's profit margins are fatter than for auditing, Mr Echevarria's strategy has surely inflated partners'paypackets. But it carries a greater risk of conflicts of interest, given the temptation for accounting firms to cut their clients slack on audits and compliance work in order to retain lucrative consulting business. On August 18th New York's regulators fined PwC $25m for watering down a report on sanctions-busting transactions with Iran at a Japanese bank; they punished Deloitte for a similar violation last year. The leaders of the Big Four have customarily come from the auditing side. If Deloitte's partners vote for a consultant, it will leave little doubt that the firm's roots in bean counting are being left further behind.

1.vote for 投票赞成

Whom should I vote for?

In reality, the challenge illustrated exactly why these "vote for me" contests in the nonprofit world have got to go away.

2.belong to 属于

They belong to the Knights of Columbus.

He belongs to Chicago.

3.start to 开始

When you do not answer I do not know (you are afraid even to do so), but instead start to lie to people around you AND to yourself.

Through some discussions, we succeeded in showing that they would have significant insight into the progress of the project from start to finish.

  • influentialadj. 有权势的,有影响的 n. 有影响力的人物
  • corporationn. 公司,法人,集团
  • illustratedn. 有插画的报章杂志 adj. 有插图的 v. 阐明;
  • summonvt. 召唤,召集,振奋
  • yieldn. 生产量,投资收益 v. 生产,屈服,投降,弯下去,
  • proceedvi. 继续进行,开始,着手
  • occasionallyadv. 偶尔地
  • blockn. 街区,木块,石块 n. 阻塞(物), 障碍(物)
  • bown. 弓 n. 鞠躬,蝴蝶结,船头 v. 鞠躬,成弓形,
  • issuen. 发行物,期刊号,争论点 vi. & vt 发行,流