Fat and Mean
Ken Parish posts on the latest executive pay scandals, with plenty of detail. I have a couple of thoughts arising from this.
The first is that it’s not long since we were all being told about the new lean and mean corporate model, with its slimmed-down management. As recently as 1996, when the late David Gordon wrote Fat and Mean, pointing out that the opposite was true, it was correctly viewed as a contrarian attack on the conventional wisdom.
The second relates to the rhetoric about risk and return that still dominates much public debate. I remember reading some years ago that, contrary to this rhetoric, the income risk faced by senior executives was about the same, in proportional terms, as that faced by ordinary workers. The comparison by now must be massively in favor of the bosses. Once you’ve got a CEO-type position, you effectively have a job for life, with or without duties. Even if you get booted out the next week, you’re still paid for the rest of your life and beyond. The fact that virtually every CEO employment contract contains provisions of this kind speaks volumes about attitudes to risk