Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Avoiding the pitfalls of a knowledge-based society

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A new pluralist society of specialised knowledge workers is emerging. That means our leaders need to be on their toes to avoid the mistakes of the past

Knowledge will be the key resource of society in the future. In rich countries, knowledge workers already make up half the workforce and are growing in numbers. What will this mean for society, politics and the economy?

The impacts are likely to be greater in the social sphere than the economic one.

The first thing to note about knowledge workers is that they are capitalists, because their specialised knowledge represents their human capital.

High knowledge workers such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, clerics and teachers, have been around for a long time but, increasingly, knowledge technologists – who work with their hands but use a lot of knowledge acquired through formal education (not apprenticeships) – will dominate the workforce.

Their strong identity with their work and their professional knowledge makes them cohesive, often well-organised and able to form autonomous associations.

Technological progress since the 1970s has been biased towards those with knowledge. As a consequence, the relative wages of better-educated workers have risen relative to less educated ones. This has been the primary driver underlying economic inequality and also the intense competition that students and young workers face today.

Another interesting and related trend is that the knowledge economy will be characterised by people spending fewer hours at work earning income and longer hours acquiring knowledge and enjoying leisure.

Professor Robert Fogel has estimated the average American male householder spent 80.6 per cent of their non-essential hours (essential being things like eating and sleeping) on income-earning work in 1880. This had fallen to 41 per cent by 1995 and is projected to drop further to 23.6 per cent by 2040. The rest was spent on “voluntary work hours” which includes such things as leisure and learning time but also caring for others and community involvement.

The late Professor Robert Fogel, winner of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Photo: SCMP PicturesIncreasingly, the coming generation will be more concerned about their interests outside the work market. For them, personal or spiritual satisfaction will be as important as, if not more important than, material satisfaction.

The impact of all this on politics is that the knowledge economy is creating a new pluralist society of specialised knowledge workers. Exerting political power means having to be well organised and well connected.

Large business enterprises, universities and, more recently, the third social sector of (mostly nonprofit) community organisations are all examples of well-organised, non-government organisations.

The market has facilitated business organisations by mediating conflicts through the price mechanism. Among non-profit organisations, though, politics is the only mechanism for mediating conflicts unless the bulk of their funding is borne by the clients they serve. Very often it is sensible to fund through vouchers spent by clients rather than direct subventions to organisations, if the government is the primary funding source for non-profits.

Single-cause interest groups can dominate the political process and subordinate the common good to their own values. How to balance the common good and the special purpose of the non-profit organisation is a question that must be answered if the new pluralism is not to destroy the community.

Earlier pluralist societies imploded because no one took care of the common good. To avoid this, the leaders of all institutions will have to learn to be leaders beyond their own walls and become leaders in the wider community.

The specialist, pluralist characteristics of the next society will mean more splintering into numerous institutions, each more or less autonomous, each requiring its own leadership and management, and each concentrating on its own specific work. These will be the source of society’s strength. Pluralism is necessary. The challenge is to protect this strength from its own destructive forces.

History has shown us that divisive interests can have destructive powers. Agriculture declined in the wake of industrialisation, which led to widespread protectionism. Manufacturing is also declining and being accommodated with similar protectionism in the form of subsidies, quotas, and regulations. One would expect the transition to the knowledge economy to also be accompanied by greater regulation of the economy to protect declining sectors. Can we learn to avoid the follies of the past?

As knowledge technologists become dominant in society, they will become a political force. They have invested heavily to acquire specialised skills and become human capitalists. They will be keen to protect the value of their investments. But in the face of competition from around the world, they will not be averse to protective regulation and legislation. This would weaken the market mechanism for mediating conflicts among groups and organisations.

In a globally integrated world, leaders must see beyond not only the walls of their own organisations, but over national borders. The tribe in the twenty-first century is the global tribe. The new pluralism requires civic responsibility, which means giving to the community in the pursuit of one’s own interest.

It is not apparent what kind of new politics is needed to balance the common good against the pursuit of personal interest. Meanwhile, politics has taken a direction for the worse. It will take time to sort things out.

Richard Wong is the Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy at the University of Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Economic Journal
B10 | 專家之言 | 管理人管理事 | By 黎天姿 |




麥健時研究指出這些需要與人溝通的知識工作者,對社會及機構成功產生重要的效用,因為溝通的工作是發展中國家必需的,帶來經濟效益的重要資源;科技並不能替代人與人之間的溝通及交流,同時,溝通互動正是全球競爭的世界裏人才的有效性的反映,面對人口老化技術短缺,知識人才十分渴求,麥健時全球研究中提到美國在本世紀結束時,需要大學畢業生人才的數字達至150 萬,而中國就在2020年面對2300萬大學畢業生和教育工作者的短缺。












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Hong Kong Economic Journal
B10 | 專家之言 | 管理人管理事 | By 黎天姿 |


在日本作家上田惇生著的《德魯克思想入門》一書中, 「未來已經來臨」一篇中,論到由於德魯克的預測總是非常靈驗,以至獲得了廣泛的讚譽,有人把他說成是「最偉大的未來學學者」,這個說法是非常恰當的,不過,他本人都對此斷然予以否認。德魯克認為任何人都不可能知道未來將要發生的事情,即使有人預測的事情,後來果然發生了,但是世界上發生的許多重大事情卻根本無人能預測,而且後者的數量遠遠多於前者。也就是說,預測這種行為其實並沒有多大的意義。




1986 年,77 歲的德魯克在論文集《經營管理學的新天地》的序言中這樣寫道: 「所有的明天都是由今天創造的。所謂的明天,是由許許多多戰鬥在平凡崗位上的無名英雄創造的,他們也許是這家公司的總經理,那家公司的市場經理,某某公司的培訓經理,某某公司的監事……。」

德魯克認為,知識勞動者(Knowledge Worker)最好還是遠離意識形態,他們的目的並不是要與誰對立,社會的目標只有通過各種組織發揮自身的力量才有實現的可能。這些組織在很多專業領域或特殊領域具有各自優勢,諸如在產品服務,醫療服務,教育服務等方面,只要發揮它們一技之長,就更好地滿足社會需要。德在「斷層時代」中明確指出: 「組織通過實際成果來加強自身的權力基礎,並由此逐漸取得正統地位而為公眾知曉,這將成為多元化社會的基本原則。」






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Hong Kong Economic Journal
B10 | 專家之言 | 管理人管理事 | By 黎天姿 |

2012 年4 月刊出的麥健時報告,談論到一項調查,就是在2008至2010年間研究中指出不少擁有多元化的高層領袖團隊,會帶來更出眾的業績及結果。研究中提到,由於機構領袖不同的背景、人生經驗,以及擴大了機構的策略及遠景,這些多元化的因素,造就了勝出其他競爭對手的原因。

在實際的數字上,ROE 及EBIT 種種業績,在一百八十間上市公司中,以及在法國、德國、美國公司裏,多元化及成效都有正面的關係,又證明了多元化領袖及管理帶來了正面增長。其中Adidas的高層領導更設計了婦女晉升到管理層等的指標,在三年時間裏,由21%升至30%,在2016 年的指標目標更是35%。同時公司內更制定了政策,例如彈性工作時間以及兼職工作機會等,好讓有需要的女性員工能解決家庭與工作的平衡問題,從此一來,公司不單挽留了不少人才,更可以就像不同員工的才能及需要,設計了更具創意的產品。

此外,另一家國際化的食品公司,在2008至2010 年期間,不斷地向不同文化的國際地方發展,收購合併從而把其版圖擴大在不同地域,分散風險,發展其基建項目,達致財政成效,種種多元化的策略建立了公司的最優秀的實踐及經驗,增強了團隊的多元化及競爭力。


事實上,多元化不是今天才出現的,我們尋根究底,必定追索到管理大師德魯克(Peter Drucker)對世界及經濟發展的體會及預測。德魯克提到: 「我們了解未來的唯一一件事情,就是未來必然是有所不同的。」尤其是未來的動員力必然不同。

在2015 年,美國預測了人口將增加59%,少數族裔人口會增加一半以上,四分之一美國人將會是西班牙裔,十個美國人便有一位亞裔或太平洋區後裔,同時會出現更多女性及傷殘或身體有缺陷的在職工作者,新的另一代浪潮將會改變我們的思想、工作以及科技的運用。




由於我們是這樣的多元,德魯克認為我們更加須要互相配合及協調,這也是使我們國家強大的力量。在德魯克兩本重要著作Managing inTurbulent Times 及Managing in the Next Society中,他廣泛地談論不同年紀的主題內容,以及將來美國不斷演變的多元化社會,變得更包含婦女、不同種族,文化的人力資源,德魯克這些理論,獨特地提出種種的潛在的影響,他不斷鼓勵商業家及領袖,要好好利用及抓着未來人口不斷演變的機會。



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Hong Kong Economic Journal
B10 | 專家之言 | 管理人管理事 | By 黎天姿 |



主講嘉賓包括三位十分有份量的講者,他們來自中國香港的歷史學家及創立中國第一家博雅教育大學的郭少棠教授,前麥當勞高級副總裁Peter Saber 以及德魯克女兒Cecily Drucker。

Cecily的開幕致詞提到德魯克在每次演講或教學後,必然會問: 「告訴我你回到辦公室後,你會有何改變或會作出什麼不同的東西。德魯克強調未來依賴今天領袖所作出的決定。




此外, 德魯克提出Management asLiberal Art,管理是博雅藝術也可給予管理人重要學習。Liberal 「博」是指知識,自我認知及智慧;Art 「雅」是實務和應用,能驗證成效。博雅管理藝術:以倫理學、人文、社會及自然科學的知識有效地應用於管理「新現實」。

德魯克界定Management as LiberalArt 之道是強調「人的核心價值和責任」,以「人的價值貫穿個人、組織和社會」,並追求「更高的人生境界」:個人「自我中心」的解放;真理與自由「卓有成效的管理者」。正如儒家內聖外王和博文爾雅:北京大學的「博雅塔」就是指「博學高雅」。






前麥當奴高級副總裁Paul Saber 談到,我們可以盡量管理變革,但很多時不能預料變革的來臨。在他四十多年管理生涯中,他都要以兼備心情迎接每天,也須學習種種變革帶來的挑戰與機會。中國正在世界改變的中心,很多時改變帶來混亂及未知,但我們也可以有信心地面對,因為我們每天醒來都不斷面對及迎接改變。