更好的繁榮之路

A Better Path to Prosperity
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烏邁爾.哈克,著有《新資本主義宣言》,說明企業如何能夠創造實際、持久的價值

莎拉.葛林:歡迎來到HBR IdeaCast。我是莎拉.葛林。今天的來賓是哈瓦斯媒體實驗室主任烏邁爾.哈克,著有《新資本主義宣言》。烏邁爾,非常感謝你來上節目。

烏邁爾.哈克:謝謝你邀請我來,莎拉。

莎拉.葛林:我的第一個問題是,你是一群經濟學家和策略家當中的先鋒,他們說資本主義的舊做法已經結束。我們需要新事物來取代它。能否概括說明你們對這個問題的看法。

烏邁爾.哈克:我認為,過去幾年發生的情況是,我們經歷了很大的危機。這場危機凸顯現行資本主義的許多缺點。如果你回想一下美國過去十年的表現,甚至更長時間裡的表現,這也凸顯了資本主義的許多缺點,因為我們了解它,而且生活在其中。例如,無法創造就業機會。例如,無法創造新的產業。

因此,這些更大的危機引發的問題是,資本主義是否朝正確方向發展?因為畢竟資本主義是人創造出來的。它不是靜態的東西。我們常認為它是永恆的,是上帝賜予的,但並非如此。我們創造了它。我們可以重塑它。其實,我們之前已經改造過它。現在可能是關鍵時刻,我們必須再次重塑它。

莎拉.葛林:你如何看待這種改造後的資本主義?你會用什麼來取代我們現有的制度?

烏邁爾.哈克:我認為必須做的第一件事,是定義何謂資本主義。我認為資本主義是一組制度。或者可說是一組基石。我們很熟悉這些基石,甚至懶得去質疑它們。很多時候我們甚至沒有注意到它們。我認為,若要重塑資本主義的挑戰,首先要知道這些基石是什麼。很多人正從不同角度來處理這挑戰。例如,現在有很好的社會創業運動。這其實是要重新設想獲利能力的基石。

企業賺取報酬的基石是什麼?你已經有了邁向綠色商業的運動,已有許多不同類型的交流和市場湧現。有網路和社群的興起。我認為,這一切都是很不同的資本主義先驅,以我所謂的厚重價值為中心。我所謂厚重價值,是真實的價值,永續的價值,有意義的價值。想想過去十年的情況,就會發現我們沒有創造那種價值。

我們有一個重大的泡沫,導致災難性的崩潰。我們自認創造的價值化為泡影,顯示這些價值大致是種錯覺。我認為,如果認真檢視這些數字,就會發現這些危機愈來愈頻繁發生,而且在很多方面變得更猛烈。所以我認為,我們的挑戰是重建一組商業制度,專注於創造真正的價值。對人們重要的價值。這種價值不會在重大危機中消散。

莎拉.葛林:你是否認為,我想稍微多談一下這個想法,在我看來,當你談論薄弱價值時,是否有很多公司或資本家看得出,自己在創造虛假的價值。你怎麼知道,自己所創造的價值可能是假的?即使你的本意不是如此。

烏邁爾.哈克:好的。我們來談一項很有趣的研究,是聯合國委託進行的。聯合國想弄清楚,商業實際上對自然界造成多大的破壞。於是他們去研究它。他們發現,三千家最大型的企業,對自然界造成價值2兆美元的損失,這是他們提供的數字。這是個相當可觀的數字。這就是我所說的薄弱價值。如果我們將這個數字應用到這些企業的獲利率,我們還沒有這麼做,但我猜若這麼做,會讓其中很多企業陷入破產狀態,很多情況會是如此,對吧?

這是薄弱價值的例子。這樣創造的價值不會被抵消,不會因為對人類、自然界、社區、社會、甚至明天的傷害所抵消。請想想,儘管很多企業可能不願意承認,但事實是,它們產生這些負面效應,影響到所有這些群體和更多方面。因此,其中很多群體開始採取更批判的態度,來檢視企業,詢問企業對我們真正做出的貢獻是什麼?

莎拉.葛林:這一切聽起來都很棒。但企業為何應該真的這樣做?尤其他們若是現在有賺錢,而且覺得自己很成功。

烏邁爾.哈克:我認為重點在於優勢。當我們檢視企業的實際獲利能力,正如海格在《拉的力量》一書中很巧妙地展示的,以資產報酬率計算的獲利能力,自1960年代以來持續下降,已經很趨近於零的邊界。因此,企業目前沒有沉浸在真正的獲利裡。的確,情況正好相反。因此,為何企業應大步跨入這種新典範,關鍵在於優勢。

重點是要重新發現獲利能力。我認為這與不同群體的預期已改變有關。讓我講個小故事。很多企業認為,若要擺脫在這裡的繁榮衰退,可以轉向新興市場來擺脫。他們認為,可以複製過去二十年使用的商業模式,用在新興市場上。但其實,你若檢視新興市場消費者想要什麼,他們更敏銳地注意產品是否帶來環保的好處,產品是否以符合道德的方式生產。

這些差距遠比我們這裡更大。因此,各個群體的期望正在改變。這是全球性的變化。其實,似乎在新興市場的變化更快,有些情況下是如此。如果期望正在改變,所有這些群體、消費者、投資人、員工、每個人的期望都在改變,那麼獲利能力、獲利能力的基礎,也會改變。在某個層次上,重點在於供給與需求。

你能否提供所有這些不同群體開始要求的東西?如果你不能,你的命運可能就與那些無法提供所需事物的人相同,也就是大宗商品化。所以我認為,重點在於優勢。

莎拉.葛林:我想談得更具體一點。因為我認為,其中一些想法很容易聽起來很抽象。你能否舉例說明,哪些公司可能正在創造薄弱價值,或厚重價值?也許各舉一個例子。

烏邁爾.哈克:當然。就以華爾街為例。過去十年的想法是,華爾街開創了一系列突破性創新,讓人們能以更便宜的價格,長期持續地獲得信貸,造就了繁榮。這種繁榮體現在許多不同的價值衡量標準上,對吧?盈餘上升。股東價值上升。接下來發生了一場重大崩潰。好的。

巨大的崩潰。這個價值消失了。這是薄弱價值的完美例子。真正發生的是,華爾街在推卸責任。它把責任推給誰?它把責任推回給社會。因為社會目前正在承擔前所未有的紓困成本。因此,所創造的價值是種錯覺。它從未真正發生過。這就是薄弱價值的例子。現在讓我們來談談厚重價值。

我最喜歡的一個例子,是一家你最想不到會創造厚重價值的企業。它正在逐步嘗試創造這樣的價值。那就是沃爾瑪。沃爾瑪的新永續發展目標,重心在零浪費、使用100%的可再生能源,如果我沒記錯,只銷售對環境有益的東西。這些都是厚重價值的完美例子。他們正努力為所有相關群體創造雙贏。他們試圖創造重要的價值、持久的價值、會成長的價值。

不要靠世界供給能源、吞噬所有自然資源、壓垮社區,不做所有這些可怕的事情,沃爾瑪在過去二十年一直受到譴責。所以他們採取一些小步驟,但我想說,是有意義的步驟。他們現在面臨的挑戰,當然就是為這些優秀做法注入活力。但我認為,這個例子呈現薄弱價值和厚重價值的差異。

莎拉.葛林:讓我們討論一個更大、更難的問題,做為最後一個問題。你談到不同企業、不同產業所做的這些事情,如果企業真的都開始這樣做,而且不只是在我們一直關注的環境領域,也針對社區、社會和未來,當企業都在創造厚重價值,資本主義在這個新世界裡會是什麼樣貌?理想的最終狀態是什麼?

烏邁爾.哈克:我認為,理想狀態就是,我們向來仰賴和期望從資本主義得到的東西,也就是繁榮。可長久的繁榮。會成長的繁榮。我認為,愈多企業採取建設性的行動,我們就愈能大步邁進新的繁榮。我們希望在那個時代看到的,是我們一直與資本主義聯繫在一起的東西。

讓資本主義與眾不同的東西。我們希望看到激烈的競爭。我們希望看到真正的見解。但我們現在不會看到,這些東西在更高的層次上運作。我們希望看到真正的見解,是關於如何為所有這些群體創造「正和」遊戲,而不是只用一隻手給予,用另一隻手索取。我們希望看到,資本主義的機制發揮作用,但更有效率、更有生產力、更有成效。

不僅極大化產出的效益,也就是你製造的東西,也要極大化結果,也就是人們消費你所製造的東西後發生的事情。這就是下一代資本主義的行動。一小群叛逆人士正在引領潮流。我認為我們正在走向成功。我認為真正的問題在於,你是否願意實現這樣的大躍進?

莎拉.葛林:烏邁爾,非常感謝你今天和我們分享這些看法。

烏邁爾.哈克:謝謝你邀請我來,莎拉。

莎拉.葛林:這是我們今天的來賓烏邁爾.哈克,著有《新資本主義宣言》。更多資訊,包括他的HBR部落格,請至hbr.org。

(劉純佑譯)


Sarah Green: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I'm Sarah Green. I'm here today with Umair Haque, director of the Havas media lab and author of the new book The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building A Disruptively Better Business. Umair, thanks so much for joing us.

Umair Haque: Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Green: So my first question to you, you're at the vanguard of a bunch of economist and strategists who say the old way of capitalism is dead. That we need something new to replace it. Tell us in a nutshell, how you see the problem.

Umair Haque: Well, I think what has happened over the last several years is that we've had a really big crisis. And that crisis has highlighted a lot of the shortcomings with capitalism as we're practicing it. And if you think back about the performance of the US over the last decade and longer, that also highlights a lot of the shortcomings with capitalism, as we know it and we live it. If you think about the inability to create jobs, for example. If you think about the inability to create new industries, for example.

So the question that these larger sets of crises beg is, is capitalism moving in the right direction? Because after all, capitalism is a human creation. It's not a static thing. We often think it's eternal and God given, but it's not. We made it. And we can remake it. And in fact, we have remade it before. And it may be that this is a critical juncture at which we have to remake it again.

Sarah Green: So how do you see this remade capitalism? What would you put in the place of the system we have now?

Umair Haque: Well, I think that the first thing we have to do is define what we mean by capitalism. And I think capitalism is a set of institutions. So a set of cornerstones, if you like. A that those cornerstones are so familiar to us we don't even bother to question them. We don't even notice them a lot of the time. And so I think the challenge of remaking capatialism begins with recognizing what those cornerstones are. And I think many people are approaching it from different angles. So for example, you've got a great movement toward social entrepreneurship now. Which is really about reimagining the cornerstone of profitability.

The cornerstone of what does it mean for a company to earn a return? You've got movement towards green business. You've got many different kinds of exchanges and markets spring up. You've got networks and communities springing up. I think all of these are precursors to a very different kind of capitalism that is centered on what I call thick value. So what I mean by thick value is value that is authentic. Value that's sustainable. And value that's meaningful. And if you think about what's happened over the last decade, we haven't been creating that value.

So we had an epic bubble which led to a catastrophic meltdown. And the value we thought that we were creating went up in smoke. And it was revealed to be mostly an illusion. I think that when you actually look at the numbers, those crises are occurring at a more and more frequent rate and they're becoming more violent, in many ways. And so I think our challenge is rebuilding a set of institutions for business that are focused on creating real value. Value that matters to people. Value that just doesn't vanish in a puff of smoke in a big crisis.

Sarah Green: Do you think -- I want to just press a little bit on this idea -- it seems to me like when you talk about thin value, I don't know if there are many companies or capitalists out there who would see themselves as creating fake value. So how do you know the value you're creating maybe fake? Even though you would intend it to be otherwise.

Umair Haque: Sure, so let's talk about a really interesting study that was commissioned by the UN. And the UN wanted to figure out how much harm is business actually doing to the natural world. And so they went out and studied it. And they found out that the 3,000 largest firms are doing something like $2 trillion dollars worth of damage according to their numbers to the natural world. That's a pretty significant number. And that is what I mean by thin value. If we apply that number to the profit margins of those firms, which we haven't done yet, but my guess is that it would reduce many of them to a state of bankruptcy in many cases, right?

So that's an example of thin value. It's about creating value that isn't counter-balanced by harm to people, to the natural world, to communities, to society, or even to tomorrow. And if you think about it, though many businesses may not want to admit it, the truth is that they are having those negative effects on all of these constituencies and more. And it's for that reason I think that many of these constituencies are beginning to take a much more critical look at business and say what are you really contributing to us?

Sarah Green: This all sounds great. But why should companies really do this? Especially if they are making money now and feeling successful.

Umair Haque: I think the story here is about advantage. When we actually look at the real probability of companies as John Hagel has very elegantly demonstrated in the Power of Pull, profitability in terms of return on assets has been declining since the 1960s. And it's pretty close to hitting zero boundary. So firms are not wallowing in real profits at the moment. Indeed, it's the opposite. So why companies should make the leap into this new paradigm is a story of advantage.

It's about rediscovering profitability. And I think that has to do a log with a changing expectations of the different constituencies. So let me give you a little anecdote. So many companies think that they can outrun the decline in prosperity here by shifting into emerging markets. And they think that they can replicate the business models that they've utilized last two decades in emerging markets. But the truth is when you actually look at what consumers in emerging markets want, they are much, much more sensitive to whether products have green benefits, whether products are produced ethically.

Those gaps are much bigger than they are here. So the expectations of constituencies are changing. And it's a global change. And it seems to be happening faster, in fact, in emerging markets, in some cases. So if the expectations are changing of all these constituencies, consumers, investors, employees, everybody, then profitability, the bases of profitability, are also going to change. So on one level, it's a story of supply and demand.

Can you supply the things that all of these different constituencies are beginning to demand? If you can't, then odds are you're going to suffer the same fate that people who cannot supply what is in demand always suffer, which is commoditization. So I think it's a story of advantage.

Sarah Green: I'd like to just get a little bit more specific. I think, because it's easy for some of these ideas that sound very abstract. Can you tell us maybe some examples of companies who are may be creating thin or thick value? Maybe one of each.

Umair Haque: Sure, let's think about Wall Street, for example. OK, the idea over the last decade was that Wall Street had pioneered a bunch of ground breaking innovations that would allow people to access credit sustainably for a long time at a much cheaper rate. And so we had a boom. And that boom was manifested in many different measures of value, right? So earnings went up. Shareholder value went up. What happened next was an epic crash. OK.

A huge crash. And that value disappeared. That is a perfect example of thin value. What had really happened was that Wall Street was passing the buck. And who did it pass the buck to? It passed the book right back to society. Because society is now bearing the cost of a historical bailout. So the value that was created was an illusion. It never really happened. So that's an example of thin value. Now let's talk about thick value for a second.

One of my favorite examples is a company that you would least expect to be creating thick value. And they're taking baby steps towards trying to create it. And that's Walmart. So Walmart's new sustainability goals are centered around having zero waste, around using 100% renewable energy, I think, and only selling stuff that benefits the environment. So those are kind of perfect examples of thick value. So they're trying to create a win-win for all their constituencies. They are trying to create value that matters, value lasts, value that grows.

Instead of powering through the world, and eating up all the natural resources, and crushing communities, and doing all these awful things, which Walmart has been excoriated for over the last two decades. So they're taking small, but I would say, meaningful steps. The challenge for them, of course, is now actually breathing life into these wonderful girls. But I think that's an example of the difference between thin and thick value.

Sarah Green: So let's go then to an even bigger, harder question for our last question. When you talk about different companies, different industries, doing all these things, if companies really start to all do this, and not just in the environmental sector we've been through focusing on, but about communities, societies, the future, what does capitalism look like in this new world when companies are all creating thick value, what's the desired end state?

Umair Haque: Well, I think the desired and state is what we have always relied on and desired from capitalism, which is prosperity. A prosperity that lasts. And a prosperity that grows. I think that the more companies act constructively, the more that we will be able to take a quantum leap into a renewed prosperity. I think that what we want to see in that era is the things that we've always associated with capitalism.

The things that make capitalism special. We want to see in fierce competition. We want to see real insight. But we won't see these things operating at a higher level now. We want to see real insight about how can you create positive sum games for all of these constituencies, instead of just giving with one hand and taking with the other. So we want to see the mechanisms of capitalism working, but much more efficiently, productively, and effectively.

Maximizing the effectiveness not just of outputs, the stuff you make, but of outcomes, the stuff that happens after people consume the stuff you make. So that's next generation capitalism it action. I think that a small generation of renegades is leading the charge. And I think we are getting there. I think the real question is are you willing to make the leap or not?

Sarah Green: Umair thanks so much for talking with us today.

Umair Haque: Thanks for having me, Sarah.

Sarah Green: That's Umair Haque. And the book is The New Capitalist Manifesto. For more, including Umair's HBR blog, go to hbr.org.



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