「Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.」というヨーダ師の有名な台詞のもじりのようなタイトルになったが、ロバート・ソローマッキンゼーの季刊誌McKinsey Quarterly(MQ)のインタビューでそう語っている(H/T Mostly Economics)。

...In the early 1990s, Solow accepted the role of academic adviser to the then-fledgling McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), which was proposing to research and explain differences in the productivity of industries and countries. Economist Martin Neil Baily and McKinsey Publishing’s Frank Comes recently sat down with Solow to discuss the implications of those early studies for business and economics, as well as the prospects for future productivity-led growth.
The Quarterly: What, if anything, surprised you about the findings of the early MGI studies?
Robert Solow: What came as something completely new to me was that if you looked at the same industry across countries, there were almost always dramatic differences in either labor productivity or total factor productivity. To my surprise, it turned out that most of the time, certainly more often than not, the difference in productivity—in the auto industry or the steel industry or the residential-construction industry in the US and in countries in Europe—was not only substantial but couldn’t seriously be explained by differences in access to technology.
We also found that the productivity differences could not be traced to differences in access to investment capital. The French automobile industry, much to my surprise, turned out to be more capital intensive than the American automobile industry. So it was not that either. The MGI studies instead traced these differences in productivity to organizational differences, to the way tasks were allocated within a firm or a division—essentially, to failures in managerial decisions.
I was, of course, instantly suspicious of this. I figured to myself, “What do you expect a bunch of management consultants to find but differences in management capacities? That’s in their genes. That’s not in my genes.” But MGI made a very convincing case for this. And I came to believe that it was right.
The Quarterly: So management was the primary factor in productivity differences?
Robert Solow: Yes, and there was another surprise, for which there was partly anecdotal, partly statistical evidence. If you asked why there were differences that could be erased or diminished by better management, the answer was that it took the spur of sharp competition to induce managers to do what they were in principle capable of doing. So the idea that everybody is everywhere and always maximizing profits turned out to be not quite right.
MGI made a very good case that what was lacking in these trailing industries in other countries—or in the US, in cases where the US trailed—was enough exposure to competition from whoever in the world had the best practice. And this, of course, can apply within a country. We know that in any industry, there is a whole distribution of productivity levels across firms and even, sometimes, across establishments within a firm. And much of that must be due to the absence of any spur to do more.
So an interesting conclusion to me was that international trade serves a purpose beyond exploiting comparative advantage. It exposes high-level managers in various countries to a little fright. And fright turns out to be an important motivation.


当然ながら私はこの結果を疑ってかかりました。私は自分にこう言いました。「経営コンサルタントの一団が経営能力の違い以外に何を見つけるというのだ? それは彼らの遺伝子に組み込まれている。私の遺伝子にはそれは無い。」 しかしMGIはこれについて非常に説得力のある主張をしました。そして私はそれが正しいと信じるようになったのです。