Thursday, August 06, 2009

Propriedade, gestão e "controle operário"

Ownership, control & workers, por Chris Dillow:

[S]hareholders currently attach only a smallish value to voting rights. We can get a clue of this from Schroders, one of the few UK firms which still has voting and non-voting shares. The former are priced at a premium to non-voting shares of 15.9%.

So, why don’t we go more radical than Myners? Why not transfer voting and control rights from shareholders to workers. The case for doing so is straightforward. Workers are less diversified than shareholders, so they have more skin in the game of ensuring that companies are well-run. Because they are insiders, they can tell better than outsiders when a firm is doing well or not. And shared capitalism increases corporate efficiency, so why not push it further?

The counter-argument is also straightforward. If workers had power, they would enrich themselves by seizing current and future dividends. So shares would become worthless. The explicit voting premium is small only because non-voters can shelter behind voting shareholders.

All this raises the question. Is it possible for shareholders to write some sort of contract with workers - analogous to their contract with chief executives - which allow for the net present value of dividends to be maximized (more or less) whilst at the same time empowering workers to manage firms better?

If the answer is yes, then we have an opportunity to move towards a genuine stakeholder capitalism.

If it’s no, then Marxists have been right all along - there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between workers and capitalists.

(A third possible argument is that workers actually gain from having shareholders appoint skilful managers. I mention this only to exhaust the logical possibilities, not because it is a credible alternative.)

No comments: