【演講】Becoming A World-Class Business- A Lawyer’s Perspective 邁向世界一流企業─法律人觀點

  In today’s society, law is intertwined with business more than we may imagine. It is critical that managers possess at least the fundamental knowledge of legal issues relating to their business operations. With adequate awareness, a business can be properly managed and better safeguarded. On the contrary, ignorance of legal matters can seriously jeopardize a business. Therefore, a good manager should understand the impact of law in business. In addition, law is also vital in establishing a world-class business, which is a goal that the lagging local Chinese businesses are striving. I will present my recommendations on this subject matter in the later part of my speech.

  To begin, how is law related to business The ways of business on one level can be seen as governed by law. Due to the rules in place, a business entity, which is not a natural person, is accordingly granted the legal capacity to engage in activities and claim ownership. Thus, an enterprise can own land, open bank accounts, issue stocks, apply for patent, and so forth. It is by the operation of law that enterprises acquire legal rights as well as obligations.

  It is then fundamental that a business understands the impact of domestic and international laws on business management. A business has to abide by the domestic laws of the country that it resides in, and the impact of such laws is on all areas of business functions from production, finance, HR, MIS, R&D, and to marketing. For instance, laws are commonly in place for environmental and consumer protection, intellectual property, banking, labor rights and so forth, that would and should influence managers’ business decision-making. In all, an enterprise should have a sound knowledge of the domestic laws of the country in which it is doing business. In addition, businesses should also be familiar with international laws and treaties that may potentially affect business prospects, such as the Montreal Protocol, labor treaties, and WTO.

  Upon comprehensive awareness of legal aspects, I further propose a new model with three major points for Chinese enterprises to use as a reference, as to how to become a world-class business. The first is to promote the strengths of our traditions, such as the old saying, “Doing well by doing good.” However, many local Chinese enterprises tend to separate “utility” from “profit” in doing business; more specifically, neglecting public welfare in the sole pursuit of company interest. “Utility-concerns” and “profit-concerns” should converge when making business decisions as they shape the company’s value in the long run.

  An example of another Chinese tradition that should be encouraged is pointed out in the book, “Eastasia Edge,” of Holfheinz and Calder in that “Eastasians, deeply influenced by Confucianism, are diligent and frugal, value education and familism and respect their government and all these have formed a common source of economic drive.” These are some of the traditions that strengthen Chinese businesses. Second, to become a world-class business, a company needs to maintain a high level of self-discipline for the maximization of public welfare, as well as adherence to law for the demonstration of company’s goodwill, avoidance of risk from lawsuits, and early adaptation to today’s elevating ethical standards. And finally, a business should always take legal advice into account in its decision-making and establish such practice as a primary norm.

  In examining the norm of some of the world-class businesses in the international arena, Chinese enterprises have much room to improve. Businesses should understand that most investors are willing to pay higher premium to invest in, aside from profitable, a well governed, and socially and legally responsible enterprise.

  ( Dr.C.V.Chen, Lee and Li, Attorneys-at-Law)

  現代社會中,法律與商業的關係十分密切。企業經理人擁有財經法律的基本常識是非常重要的。藉由對企業財經法律適當的了解,企業可以得到法律的保護安全順利地運作。

  相反地,忽略法律將會大幅增加企業的違法風險,威脅到企業的生存。因此,優秀的企業經理人應該了解法律對企業的影響力。並且,法律在建立一個世界級企業的過程中,實扮演極為重要的角色,而這也是發展中的華人企業一直努力追求的目標。我將在接下來的演講後,對這個議題提出建議。

  首先,企業與法律的關係是什麼呢?企業在某種程度上可以說是被法律所支配的。因為,一個非自然人的企業體之所以被賦予法律上的能力,可以從事活動以及請求所有權,這完全是法律所擬制出來的。是以,一個企業可以擁有土地,開立銀行帳戶,發行股票,申請專利權等等。透過法律,企業於焉取得法律權利並負擔法律義務。

   熟悉法律運作 跨國營運加分

   企業必須認知到,國內法以及國際法對企業經營的影響是非常深遠的。每一個企業都必須遵守它所設立的國家的法律,而這些法律的影響力遍及公司的每一個部門,從生產、財務、人力資源、資訊管理、研發、以至於行銷都有。

  例如,環保相關法律會影響到企業生產,消費者保護法會影響到企業的行銷,其他諸智慧財產權,金融,勞工權利相關法律,在在都會對企業經理人的商業決策有所影響。此外,一方面企業必須對於它所從事商業活動的國家的國內法有充分的了解。另一方面,企業也應該熟悉可能影響企業活動的超國界法律、國際法以及條約,例如蒙特婁議定書,勞工條約,以及世界貿易組織的相關規範等。

  對法律的運作有基礎的了解之後,我再提出一個新的模式供中式企業參考,如何成為世界一流企業。這個模式有三個主要的觀點,第一個觀點是立基於傳統優良文化的經營哲學,例如有俗諺有云「以義為利」,即把公益視為己利。

   結合社會公益 勇於承擔責任

  然而,許多華人企業有時會將「最大多數人的最大幸福」與「企業利益」分開;更精確地說,在全力追求公司利益的過程中忽略掉公共福祉。企業經理人在做商業決策以創造公司長遠價值時,應該將「社會公益」以及「企業利益」結合在一起。

  另外,在Holfhein以及Calder所寫的《EastasiaEdge》一書中提及一個優良的華人傳統:「東方的亞洲人,深深受孔子思想的影響,非常勤奮而且節儉,很重視教育以及家庭,且尊重他們的政府,而這些都已經形成東亞經濟成長的共同來源」。這些傳統價值,是現代華人企業要保持與發揚的。

  要成為世界一流企業,第二個要點是,公司必須維持高度的自律,努力追求公共福祉的最大化,透過對法律的遵守,以求公司商譽的實踐,一方面避免法律風險,另一方面,亦可及早適應現代社會益趨嚴格的企業道德標準。最後,企業在做商業決策時,一定要重視專業法律人(不論是內部或外部)所提供的法律意見,把法律諮詢納入商業判斷的流程,並將法律視為企業經營的準則。

  以眾多世界級一流企業的標準來看,華人企業尚有很多進步的空間。多數的投資者願意投下更高的金錢(據調查願提供多出20%的投資金額)投資除了賺錢以外,同時也是治理健全,並願意承擔社會責任以及法律責任的真正的一流企業。

  (作者陳長文是理律法律事務所合夥人)

    【2005-01-30 經濟日報25版IMBA 940130】

20050402【CVCHEN@NTU/Harvard】-Becoming A World-Class Business- A Lawyer’s Perspective by cvchen1973