L'auteur fait quelques réflexions sur certains des aspects nouveaux que le Code du Travail contient en regard des lois qui l’ont précédé et tente certaines critiques d’ensemble.
Perhaps it is too soon to give a final opinion on a legislation as young and complex as the Quebec Labor Code.
It is difficult to criticize it for two reasons :
1.—On the one hand the actual Code is in fact the amalgamation of already existing laws.
2.—On the other hand, the new principles brought by the innovations do not find their places in this piece of legislation and do not influence the general economy of the law in a satisfactory manner.
I will not make a detailled criticism of the Code, I will discuss it from the actual state of things and, in concluding, I will try a few criticisms of the whole and a look of the future of this legislation.
THE RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION AND « CADRES » UNIONISM
One of the main innovations brought by the Labor Code was the extension of the right of association to certain categories of workers who were not considered as wage-earners by the old labor laws.
If the Code gave the professional the right of association, it continued to refuse the title of wage-earners to those who represent the employer in his relations with his employees. The Code did not fulfil all the sociological requirements over this point.
Anyway the professional world uses more and more the unionist formula and it is, I think, an irreversible trend. Would not it be time for the legislator to adapt his labor laws in order to prevent conflicts coming from these people ?
Regarding the civil servants, I think that the Code has made a step toward evolution that no one will deny. The Civil Service Act facilitates the application of the right of association by two different dispositions :
1.—In section 71, it is said that the certification of professional groups will be granted only upon the recommandation of a joint committee constituted for such purpose by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council and one half of the members of which are representatives of the group concerned and if a conflict takes place, the Quebec Labor Relations Board shall decide.
2.—Also the section which allows many professional groups to be constituted in association in order to be certified and to negotiate.
NEGOTIATION, CONCILIATION AND DELAYS PRECEDING THE RIGHT TO STRIKE
We know that the Labor Code has considerably simplify and shorten the procedures regarding negotiations, conciliation and delays preceding the right to strike or lockout.
The government has ceased its many intervention thus giving a much more responsible and serious character to the negociations and parties involved.
However there is a great weakness in our present Code : the right to strike or lockout depends upon the notice provided for in section 42. Consequently the parties are tempted to skip direct negotiations in order to ask conciliation before the proper time. It is surely not the intention of section 42 of the Code. In my opinion, it would be wise to dissociate entirely the delays preceding the right to strike or lockout from conciliation. Would not it be possible to consider a regime similar to the american Taft-Hartley Act in which conciliation is volontary and offered to the parties but not imposed. It would then be possible to adjust the delays preceding the right to strike or lockout.
This problem has raised many discussions in the industrial and juridical world since the carrying of the Labor Code.
I think that the difficultes brought by section 36 are due to the complexity of the problems created by this industrial practice regarding modern collective agreements are to the fragmentary character of the decisions accumulated up to date.
But a fact remains : the problem of sub-contracting is not yet settled and the Code satisfied almost nobody by its section 36.
The problems come from the fact that people still assimilate the firm to the employer : this is thus a juridical notion of the firm while in fact it is in the first place a technical, social and economical notion.
THE RIGHT TO STRIKE IN THE PUBLIC SERVICES
We assist here to a radical change of our labor relation policies and of our labor laws which prohibited since 1944 the right to strike to employees of such services, contrary to most of other north american legislations.
The question hereby raised is not to know what was the result of the new attitude adopted by our legislator, but to know, if, by allowing the use of the right to strike to the majority of the wage-earners in the public services, the measures foreseen in the Code in order to limit its length and effects are really adequate since the coming into force of the Code ? The answer is quite difficult to give. It seems that the measures of section 99 concerning the eight days' prior written notice to the Minister, the board of inquiry and the injunction failed to attain the purposes they were established for.
Many people criticized the legislator about its measure putting into the hands of a judge of the Superior Court powers which normally should have stayed in the hand of the political authority. I agree entirely with this criticism. But I think that if the government wants to keep this procedure working, he must give it some teeth. He should use it when necessary and penalize anyone who refuse to obey it. Otherwise it is anarchy.
The only way, to my thinking, to avoid the perpetuance of the present malaise in certain sectors is to allow the wage-earners organizations an increased participation to higher bodies studying their problems. This cannot be done if contestation and negotiation stay at their present level with their well known structures and mecanisms. A renovated Labor Code would do quite a lot in our opinion to help such changes.
I think, with many others, that it is urgent to have a serious study made in Quebec on our labor laws and on all our industrial relation system, as it is already underway in Ontario, in Ottawa, and in many other Canadian provinces.
Kenneth O. Alexander
The Ruther of today in his criticisms of organized labor may sound like the Lewis of the 1930's. But the issues within organized labor and the circumstances surrounding them are very different.
Il semble que l'érudit et l'intellectuel aient abandonné depuis quelque temps les études institutionnelles du syndicalisme. En plus, la littérature écrite sur le syndicalisme a surtout insisté sur la non croissance du nombre de membres depuis environ dix ans. Cette stagnation est due à plusieurs facteurs :
1 ) la majorité des secteurs où le syndicalisme puisait traditionnellement sa force sont maintenant presque tous syndiqués ;
2) ces dits secteurs emploient relativement de moins en moins de travailleurs comparativement à la main-d'oeuvre totale ;
3) dans les secteurs où l'emploi croît très rapidement, les travailleurs sont moins orientés vers le syndicalisme et en plus, il est très difficile de les organiser ;
4) les changements dans l'emploi et les développements technologiques entraînent une mobilité occupationnelle qui rend la syndicalisation plus difficile ;
5) les syndicats ainsi que les chefs syndicaux sont dans un certain état de léthargie ;
6) l'opinion publique a changé au sujet du syndicalisme et la législation est devenue plus restrictive.
Fait surprenant à noter, la place des syndicats dans la société américaine aujourd'hui est sensiblement la même qu'en 1920. Il serait très instructif de retracer brièvement les moyens employés par les syndicats pour presque revenir au point de départ en un si court laps de temps.
En ce faisant, on pourra connaître les raisons de l'éloignement des syndicats d'une part, des érudits et des intellectuels d'autre part.
Les années 20 furent suivies d'une période qui faussa notre pensée sociale, économique et politique. En économique, Keynes a détruit la conclusion classique à savoir que le plein emploi était le point d'équilibre naturel dans une économie de libre entreprise, avec, en plus, la philosophie de non-intervention de l'Etat comme conséquence. Ses idées ont trouvé des supporteurs parmi ces intellectuels qui étaient pris entre d'une part leurs préoccupations humanitaires pour les sous-développés et les désavantagés et d'autre part une certaine honorabilité intellectuelle face au désintéressement du gouvernement.
L'application du New Deal ne représente pas la mise en pratique de la nouvelle conception économique. On dirait plutôt que ces mesures sont une recherche de solutions à des problèmes urgents par des politiciens pratiques. Quand on prend la peine de faire une analyse raisonnée à partir de la nouvelle conception économique, c'est souvent crû et naïf (par exemple, le préambule à la loi Wagner justifiait une augmentation de salaires par le simple pouvoir d'achat). Cette sorte de naïveté a aussi été la caractéristique du support intellectuel pour le syndicalisme dans les années 30. L'appui pour le COI provient de préoccupations humanitaires pour le travailleur désavantagé de l'industrie américaine : en plus, ce support provient de l'application fonctionnelle de la philosophie de Keynes qui prônait des transferts de revenus en faveur de la consommation croissante du salarié, de la demande aggregative et contribuant à une diminution du niveau de chômage. Avec cette conception de hausse, l'économique était naïve, mais l'entremelage de morale et de fonctionnalisme était confortable pour les intellectuels.
Mais l'enthousiasme des intellectuels et l'appui général pour le travail organisé commença à baisser avant la fin des années 30. La deuxième guerre mondiale détourna la préoccupation humanitaire. Après la guerre, il y eût un certain intérêt dans le conflit de l'établissement du niveau de salaire, de profit et de revenu dans un contexte d'insécurité d'après guerre. Mais la guerre de Corée éteignit vite cet effort.
La fusion FAT-COI était considérée comme une rationalisation institutionnelle issue d'une rivalité bureaucratique. Tout ceci gagna l'estime de plusieurs intellectuels qui, vingt ans plus tôt, se sentaient confortable dans leur support moral et fonctionnel du COI.
En plus, la publication d'une pensée macro-économique plus compliquée ébranla les bases fonctionnelles du support syndical. Il devint apparent que le syndicalisme avait peu d'influence, sinon aucune, sur la distribution du revenu : et même s'il en avait, le gouvernement fédéral possédait des armes plus puissantes et prévisibles pour réduire le chômage. En plus, le fait de supporter le syndicalisme comme agent de transfert de revenu pour augmenter les dépenses et ainsi réduire le chômage, était une base transitoire de support syndical. En fait, une personne pouvait aussi logiquement s'opposer au syndicalisme afin de renverser la ligne de causalité dans le but de combattre l'inflation d'après guerre.
L'expérience d'après guerre a façonnée une conception moins idéaliste du syndicalisme : en effet, on considéra alors les unions comme étant d'abord préoccupées par leur propre survie et agissant dans l'intérêt de leurs membres. Le pouvoir du syndicalisme d'affecter le bien être de ses membres est sujet à de fortes limitations dépendant dans une large mesure du pouvoir de marché et des fortunes économiques des employeurs. Aujourd'hui, on considère les unions comme étant des organisations à intérêt économique, privées de plusieurs préoccupations humanitaires. Les buts des campagnes d'organisation syndicale n'ont pas aujourd'hui un appui aussi sympathique que pendant les années 30.
Voilà donc les ressemblances entre la position des syndicats aujourd'hui et leur position en 1920. Ainsi le Reuther d'aujourd'hui avec ses critiques du travail organisé peut ressembler au Lewis des années 30. Mais évidemment les résultats à l'intérieur du travail organisé et le contexte environnant sont très différents. Certaines parties du syndicalisme américain s'irritent à la suite de l'abandon de leur héritage humanitaire. Ils ont constamment une voix de sympathie pour les nouveaux « underdog » de la société et certains ont des programmes périphériques dont le but est le bien être général.
Le 19e siècle s'avère être une leçon pour ce qui a trait à la faillite du syndicalisme de bien être et de la vitalité du syndicalisme d'affaire gomperien qui, encore, caractérise le mouvement du travail en Amérique.
Les syndicats, aujourd'hui, trouvent leur succès dans des buts réformistes et humanitaires mieux atteints par une activité politique et par le support d'un parti politique : et ce parti doit considérer le syndicalisme comme une institution à intérêt économique. Il doit alors faire partie d'un processus gouvernemental afin de retenir et de restreindre le syndicalisme. Pour les syndicats, cette alliance politique doit être sujette à des tensions périodiques, comme on peut le noter depuis
Après avoir indiqué les raisons d'ordre technique, économique et social du travail en équipes, l’auteur en expose les formes et l’organisation. Puis, il en souligne les principales difficultés familiales, sociales, et physiologiques. Enfin, il suggère des moyens pour améliorer la situation existante.
Shift work more and more appears to be an economical necessity and seems to spread into many industrial sectors — almost everybody is submitted to it. However, it is necessary to have a better knowledge of the advantages and dangers of that kind of work in order to prevent and to palliate them.
The technical reasons that are the origin of that kind of work are well known. But economical factors are much more important and determine the actual growth of shift work — Those factors are :
a) the cost of equipment is higher ;
b) because of progress, equipment grows older more rapidly than its real depreciation.
However there are a few social reasons for shift work :
a ) a few public services cannot be stopped ;
b) the necessity of lenghtening opening hours of stores, etc.
Shift work is thus a characteristic of an advanced period of the technical, economical and social evolution of industrial societies.
Even though that kind of work is quite used in large firms, note is to be taken that shift work has different forms depending of the industrial sector.
The General Commisariate of the French Plan has published in its survey a graphic that clearly shows the mentioned differences.
THE DISTRIBUTION OF SHIFT-WORKERS IN THE INDUSTRIAL SECTORS
Percentage of firms using % of wage earners working on
shift work shifts in every sector
Metal production 60.4 55.0
Textile industry 39.1 37.0
Paper industry 35.1 29.0
Chemical industry 26.1 26.0
Building material 22.0 20.0
As a general rule, let us say that in France, one wage-earner out of six works on shifts. Thus only a minority of wage-earners are implied in that kind of work ; however it is not an exception anymore limited to some industrial sectors.
That are mainly two sorts of shift work : the two team and the three team shift-work :
1 ) In the two team shift work, the system is quite homogeneous : only beginning and ending hours of work vary. The most fluently practiced time table is the following :
6 a.m. — 2 p.m. — morning team ;
2 p.m. — 10 p.m. — afternoon team.
2) In the three team shift work, in the textile industry, for example, the usual time tables are :
5 a.m. — 1 p.m. — morning team ;
1 p.m. — 9 p.m. — afternoon team ;
9 p.m. — 5 a.m. — night team.
However, in the textile industry, the percentage of women employed brings out many difficulties.
Three systems of organization exist :
1.—In the first system, the worker changes of shift each week.
2.—In the second, the order of succession of the shifts is different : from P.M. to A.M., from A.M. to night shift and from night shift to P.M.
3.—The third system officially requires three teams to cover the twenty four hours. In fact, this system needs four teams : three teams are working while the fourth is at rest.
The complexity of three problems is in fact due to the difficulties and practices of each industry and is also due to the difficulties met in their application and to the preference of wage-earners to certain time tables.
Those difficulties are at the same time :
a ) familial
— change in normal life customs.
— difficulties in practicing familial responsabilities.
— difficulties in keeping in relations with friends.
— the shift-worker feels « social dead ».
— he feels on the fringe of the union, the firm and society.
— he cannot take advantage of formation and leisure program.
The dangers of shift work are quite discussed. Note is to be taken that it has been proven that workers are more inclined to work on the morning shift than on any other shift. In fact, as Menzel puts it, there is a general deficiency of blood circulation during night time.
On the other hand, daily rest, in order to be as complete and refreshing as night rest, would necessitate silence and lodging facilities that are quite rare at the present time especially in France.
The following table on insomnia illustrates my idea :
WORKERS AFFECTED BY INSOMNIA
% affected by insomnia
Living at their Bad lodging
Day-labourer 12 18
Shift workers 15 75
Day-labourer having been shift-worker 84 97
However, two points must be taken into consideration about women in the labor force :
a) shift work is often imposed to them and, because of their non-unionization, it is difficult for them to resist ;
b) night shift affects domestic duties of women.
Note is to be taken that the major cause of physiological and nervous desiquilibrium is the frequent changes in time tables. Thus keeping the body from finding a regular life rythm so necessary.
One could solve the problem by using four teams instead of three : the night shift would not work more than four hours. To do so, it would be preferable to employ half time workers especially for those night shifts.
The present situation could be ameliorated :
a) by avoiding to ask workers living far from the firm or having bad lodging
conditions to work on night shifts ;
b ) by increasing medical supervision of these workers ;
c) by avoiding to place on work shift those who cannot medically get adapted to it or older workers used to work daily on fixed time tables ;
d) by making a special effort to give medical information to employers and wage earners on the dangers of changing time-tables.
It seems that we are inclined to a greater use of this kind of work. We must try to adapt it to man. The contrary is impossible. Even economies will never modify physological laws. That is why research must be continued in order to determine the dangers of shift work. In addition to this, an information campaign must be undertaken in order to eliminate changing time-tables.
L'auteur explore la possibilité d'effectuer le passage de la théorie micro-économique à la pratique des affaires. Après une brève critique de la théorie traditionnelle, il définit l’économie d'entreprise et propose un modèle économique opératoire de l’entreprise, soit le modèle des décisions améliorées.
This paper has been especially written for those interested in the economic studies of the firm and who are more or less embarassed in using their knowledge in micro-economics: How could one conciliate profit maximization with all other objectives apparently prevailing in practice ? How could one obtain the nice theoretical demand curves ? How could one know the different cost elements for each of the many products of a firm ? Actually, those specialists are quite discouraged by the difficulties met in the passage from theory to practice.
This uneasiness also exists for the theoricians. To prove it, let us recall the famous controversy on marginalism which, for more than twenty years now, questioned the validity of the traditional economic theory. There has been much literature on this subject for the last few years both in books and magazine articles. Some of them criticize the orthodox theory by doubting of its validity as a firm theory while others propose changes or new theories.
It is known that the founders of this theory, to mention only Cournot (1838), Marshall (1890) and Chamberlin-Robinson (in the thirties), assigned to the entrepreneur a rather passive role and considered almost almighty the market forces for the factors and the products. On the contrary, since the beginning of the thirties, an increasing number of economists admit that the entrepreneur has great freedom of action i.e. he can more and more influence the external world. Cleland1 even writes that « the manager would be substituted for the market as the key element ». But one can note by simple observation that this is passing from one extreme to the other since market forces still remain generally very powerful.
Whatever is the exact relative power of each of those two elements, there is no doubt that the manager possesses a relatively large freedom of decision (especially because of his lack of information) and consequently he needs a new kind of operational framework to prepare his decisions.
Unfortunately nothing satisfying seems to be yet found. Nordquist2 notes that « among the critic there are wide differences as to what is wrong with the theory and little agreement on what should be done ». Managers nevertheless need a better approach than the one they presently have.
Does this imply that traditional micro-economics should be discarded? If so, what should replace it? If not, how could it be made more useful for scientific management? The first step to make seems quite indicated: to discuss the validity of the orthodox marginalism.
THE VALIDITY OF THE TRADITIONAL THEORY
Cyert and March 3 state seven propositions which explain the essential content of the traditional theory on which they think that there is a general consensus. Let us mention here the three following:
« 1. — At equilibrium, the marginal rate of substitution between two products, or between two factors, is equal to the ratio of their prices.
2. — The marginal physical productivity of a factor with respect to a product is equal to their price ratio.
3. — The quantity of a good produced is selected so that its marginal cost is equal to its price ».
In the context of managerial economics, it is advisable to retain only the qualitative aspect of the preceding propositions, for one must admit that it is impossible in most of our existing firms to quantify the variables involved so to entirely apply those basic principles. On the other hand each proposition describes an ideal to reach and characterizes the way and direction of the action to undertake. To put it another way, theory does not aim at the business administration as such but must inspire it largely.
To bring the subject in proper focus, before submitting it to discussion, it is convenient to recall some of the main implicit assumptions of the theory. Cleland 4 has presented and explained five of them :
« 1. —The stationary assumption — it assumes that wants, resources and the body of knowledge are given and unchanging.
2. —The independence assumption — it assumes that wants, resources and the body of knowledge are independent of one another and of the actions of the firm.
3. —The moticational assumption — the purposes or goals of the firm are assumed to be maximizing of net benefits (or profits).
4. —The informational assumption — it assumes that there is a well-organized system for the acquisition and dissemination of relevant information to the firm and within the firm, whether this be concerning technical processes, human relations, the markets for products and raw material or facilities for production.
5. —The organizational assumption — it assumes a process for decision and actions of various individuals are related to one another in terms of maximizing purpose of the firm ».
One must recall those assumptions, since most of critics invalidate orthodox marginalism pleading the non-conformity of these hypotheses with reality.
Two assumptions: Stationary and Independence
It is quite evident that wants, resources and the body of knowledge are not given once and for all for the firm but they change with time. It is also known that market forces do not entirely dominate the firm but that they influence one another.
It is unuseful here to dissert for a long time on the purpose of profit. The manager remains an individual even if he roughly accepts the value system prevailing in the firm. It is thus possible to see his own motivation more or less in opposition to the one of the organization. In fact, the individual first reaches for economical security, without neglecting psychological quietude, interest for work, chances for promotion prestige, power, etc. This becomes more and more obvious with the increasing separation of ownership from control. In addition to this, given the growing number of constraints to reckon with such as human relations, innovation, financing needs, etc., it seems impossible to maximize profit in the sense of the theory. We must however admit with Goetz5 that profit maximization constitutes a common denominator serving the many goals of the firm.
The decision criterion, in the case of orthodox marginalism, consists of maximizing profit by equating the marginal cost to the marginal revenue. This implies that the manager knows all the alternatives opened to him : each point on a demand or cost curve, for instance, represents a subset of such alternatives. Their number being infinite, it is then impossible to know all of them perfectly. Therefore the manager will not be able to rely on conventional marginalism in its full sense. However he will have to collect and use all the economic information possible to gather.
We have mentioned that the founders of conventional marginalism gave the firm a very passive role. They did not consider it either as an organization, in its modem sense, which supposes that the interrelationships between individuals and groups are established by a communication channel through which flows all the information used in the decision making process. In this organization many conflicts may arise between the different parties thus hampering the collaboration necessary for an adequate and efficient action. That is why an effort must be made to use theory in the best possible manner in the decision making process.
General Criticism of the Theory
The traditional theory is more or less invalidated on the basis of an inconsistency between the assumptions and the reality. One cannot even say that this theory is strictly speaking a theory of the firm since it explains in the first place the allocation of resources on the market. But managers must make their decisions in the firm: they cannot only consider market forces and consequently they need a supplementary framework to the one laid down in the traditional theory.
It is thus urgent to give a better account of the actual reality and to offer better guidance to the managers. However it seems utopic to search for a substitute theory for the traditional one since, because of its high degree of abstraction, it has shed some light on the extremely complex decision process of the firm.
It can be noted with Nordquist6that « two identifiable streams of activity seem to be emerging: the first, at least in precedence, involves an elaboration of the traditional theory into a general framework of optimal choice wherein the assumption of profit maximization is replaced by constrained preference maximization. The second approach seeks to develop process-oriented models of the firm, based upon close observation of actual decision behavior in real business setting ». It would be too long to enumerate here all the proposed reforms and theories. It is sufficient to say that none of them has yet received general approbation and that, on the contrary the attempts are multiplied and perhaps more diversified.
Anyhow, the real economic problem consists of allocating scarce resources in order to satisfy unlimited needs. The traditional theory will hit that target the more it will be completed by an operational economic model. The economic system considers the individuals as consumers and workers, firms as producers of goods and services, and finally the government as the regulator of the activity of the economic agents, individuals and firms. The economic welfare depends largely upon the good functionning of the different parts of the economy.
One must admit at the beginning the unlimited complexity of reality and consequently the necessity for the managers to follow the fundamental principles of conventional marginalism. The desire of rebuilding the foundations of the traditional firm theory and, like physical sciences, to want to go from the particular to the general seems unfruitful. The dimensions of a decision in the firm being quite difficult to apprehend, it is necessary, in a first step, to go far above reality because decisions must help the firm to come nearer and nearer to the theoritical ideal. In a second step, the managers must turn to a model which considers at the same time theory and practice.
NECESSITY FOR AN OPERATIONAL MODEL
The more abstract is a theory, the better it explains the essential of a phenomena and on the other hand the less it explains the detail of it. That is at the same time its force and weakness. The traditional theory gives the managers the main guide lines but is not sufficient for their concrete decisions.
It is often said that conventional marginalism, concerning the allocation of resources on a market, does not help much the managers in their decisions.
Coase 7 states however that « the firm is the supersession of the price mechanism » and that « the main reason why it is profitable to establish a firm would seem to be that there is a cost of using the price mechanism ». On the other hand, Peter Drucker8defines the main challenge of the entrepreneur as being the discovery of new possibilities. We could also state many other opinions all more or less different as the other. Admitting that the manager partially substituted the market as the key element, following the idea of Cleland, it is not allowed to go from one extreme to the other and deny that the market forces influence sometimes very much the decisions of the firms which, after all, buy the factors of production and also sell their products on the market.
But fundamentally such a discussion on the exact relative importance of the market and of the manager leads nowhere since everybody recognizes decision making as the main function of the manager, and decision implies freedom of action i.e. the choice of an alternative among many. It is sure that this liberty is active within the limits determinated by the market. For example, the price of a certain hour of work goes from $2.00 to $3.00. That is why the manager must know the price mechanism. He must thus know that an increase in the price of a product leads to a fall in its demand.
Therefore the manager needs to know how the allocation of resources on the market is done. He also needs an operational model which can be drawn from theoritical teachings but which sticks to the managerial reality and more particularly to the decision making process.
ESSAY OF DEFINITION
It is now possible to formulate a tentative definition of managerial economies: a model of optimal choice among the alternatives considered by the managers and evaluated in terms of the objective that they themselves define.
The attempt may seem ventured at a time when nobody has yet defined managerial economies. This is unfortunate and perhaps explains greatly the confusion which presently exists in this field. In fact it is almost impossible to find two books dealing with the subject and using the same terms of reference. On the one hand, one will find works presenting popularization of the traditional theory, while on the other hand some authors explain techniques and methods in one or more specific areas of management.
The model is an attempt to represent the links between the activities and the objective of a firm. It simplifies complex operations thus facilating its management by establishing the main significant relations.
Everybody considers the decision process as being the main function of an executive. Moreover, managers must optimize their choice i.e. choose the best alternatives conducive to the achievement of the objective previously defined.
Considering the fact that managers do not have perfect knowledge, it is impossible for them to inventory all the alternatives. They will rather study a few of them which seem to be the most promising.
They must also evaluate the effects of the alternatives kept for study in order to facilitate the choice of the best one. It is in their interest to quantify each outcome the best they can. For planning and control to be efficient, they must compare the forecasted outcomes of a decision with its actual results: this method is called management by results. For sure the evaluation of the latter may present as many difficulties as the former. But at least the effort of evaluation leads the managers to a better preparation of their decisions, thus contributing to their improvement.
Finally, the proposed definition implies that it is the responsability of the manager to finally define the objective. However, if one assumes a rational behavior on the part of the manager, he is led to accept long-run maximization as the objective of the firm.
MODEL FOR IMPROVING DECISIONS
So far, it has been argued that the traditional theory offered the manager a weak help but a necessary one for their decisions, thus showing its limited validity in managerial economies. The necessity of an operational model that can be useful to the managers was also pointed out. The model for improving decisions must now be explained. Fortunately, what has been said earlier probably foresees the essential.
In fact, faced with the great complexity of management, one must give up the direct application of the theory as such; but one notes at the same time the necessity of following its main guide-lines.
One must therefore pass suitably from theory to practice. Nemmers9 writes « that the typical college graduate with major in economics is, unfortunately, ill-equipped to go into business after graduation ». He proposes precisely the teaching of managerial economies which would serve as a bridge between theory and practice. Unfortunately this bridge does not exist. That is what Scitovsky10 deplored when he spoke of the « unbridged gulf » twenty five years ago. One could probably explain its absence by the difficulty to use theory which finally leads to a set of qualitative propositions not quantifiable. The qualitative aspect of theory was mentioned in the preceding pages.
What shall be done then? The manager cannot act only by intuition or with confidence to the traditional analysis. The only way to get out of the deadlock is to settle the question a little to the manner of the Gordian knot. We thus find afterwards on one side the qualitative propositions of the theory and on the other side the complex decision making process involved in the task of managing. An adequate model must fulfill in the best manner possible two fundamental requirements: to conform to theory and stick to reality.
Everyone recognizes the complex, aleatory and generally uncertain character of firm management. One will never be able to apprehend all the dimensions of a decision neither will be able to predict the future so to speak.
Therefore we must turn to a model which offers some chances of improving decisions. We could explain it by refering on the one hand to the definition of the firm or managers' objective and on the other hand to the evaluation of alternatives to choose in the search for the objective defined by the managers.
Definition of the Objective
The traditional theory only sets forth the purpose of profit maximization, obtained by equating marginal cost and marginal revenue, supposing the perfect rationality of the entrepreneur-owner. The profit could thus be maximized in a theoretical sense only if the entrepreneur fully desires it and if he possesses a complete information of all the alternatives in terms of the profit objective. Hence everybody denies the possibility of profit maximization.
Many authors proposed other particular purposes aimed at by the firm such as the maximization of the sales volume or the share of the market, the satisfying profit; the firms give an increasing importance to human relations and assign large sums of money to valorize their image in the public; above all, they want to survive and maximize utility.
In such a case, it is necessary to suppose, on one hand, a certain willingness on the part of the managers to act rationnally thus striving for profit maximization in the theoritical sense and, on another hand, to accept that the practice of management inevitably keeps managers away from the theoritical ideal. This process allows one to suppose that managers search for maximum profit on the long period taking into account a long series of constraints such as the survival of the firm, the share of the market, the sales volume, the variety of products, research and development, human and public relations, etc..
However, it seems quite difficult to define profit in a way that it could be properly measured. The accounting concept is one of the best known and the most used especially because of its possibility to measure profit objectively against rules which are conveniently applied to the exploitation of a firm. The economic concept has a much more superior significance but its use is difficult and very precarious when interfirm comparisons are made because of the strongly subjective content of its measure.
It seems however necessary to keep the economic concept in mind in managerial economies. First, let us say that a workable definition is in order: the increase (or loss) of the present value of future receipts during a given period represents the economic profit (or decrease) of a firm. We meet here just about the same problem as the one found when figuring out the profitability of investments. We finally get to the same idea of Peter Drucker 11 i.e. that the major challenge for the entrepreneur consists in finding and using new possibilities. In fact it is a matter of deciding to invest once and for all. But the profitability of a firm can change with time. The calculation of this profitability gives at the same time the measure of the economic profit and of the success of managers to innovate.
Concerning the length of the period, it depends mainly upon the capacity of forecasting. Certain firms can trust certain predictions of five years, others of seven years and others of ten years. For example, we agree on the fact that managers plan more precisely, with greater confidence and on a longer period the needs of floor area then the sales of a particular product. On the same manner it is surely easier to estimate the demand for newspaper than for women's hat.
In fact it does not seem rational for the manager to pursue another profit objective than a maximum one over a long period. Any other concept does not tend toward the optimization of decisions for there exists then an area of indetermination in the choices. So, to fix as objective a satisfying profit has two meanings: either one acts irrationnally in rejecting the best alternative in terms of profit, ceteris paribus; or one makes the optimal choice in terms of the most satisfying profit, given the limited information available. In this latter sense, the satisfying profit is the same thing as the maximum profit hereby proposed. In other words, the satisfiers' school speaks of satisfying profit when considering the impossibility of maximizing profit in the theoretical sense i.e. the impossibility to be aware of all the alternatives and to evaluate them in terms of the final objective.
In addition to this, it is often said that optimal decisions are made in terms of two objectives, the short and the long period for example. However, when one wants to classify a group of objects, he would use only one criterion; also he should do the same thing when measuring an alternative against an objective. In the logics of managing which implies foreseeing in the long run, it seems to be impossible to speak of short-run objective which in this case, appears more like a budgetary forecast. To say that a sales volume is determined for the following year in a given amount can not be construed as being the main motivation of the firm. However it is the same thing for all the other forecasts of the same kind. However it is surely desirable and even sometimes necessary to evaluate certain alternatives in terms of particular budgetary forecasts; but this does not eliminate the necessity of doing so in function of a unique objective.
Evaluation of Alternatives
Once it is agreed that managers always seek to maximize the economic value of their firm at any time, or to put it another way, want to maximize the economic profit for a given period, we must now examine how to evaluate the alternatives in relation to those criteria.
It is obvious that the book value of the total assets of a firm is most of the time different from its economic value. The same remark applies to the accounting versus economic profit. For example, the economic commitment of a firm in order to improve its human relations can considerably increase the profitability for the future periods. The same reasoning also applies to publicity, public relations, research and development etc. On the other hand the current operations expenses, such as the material employed in the manufacturing of products, generate the revenues of the present period but do not directly increase as such the potential profit of future periods.
That is why it seems necessary to make an effort to evaluate the alternatives in economic terms, even if we know that it is impossible to measure them exactly and with certainty. The difficulty of the job must not dictate another behavior. It is here that the title of the proposed model takes its full meaning. As a matter of fact, the complexity of reality is such that nobody can apprehend all the dimensions of an alternative. The managers must however try to improve their decisions by resorting to ( mathematical ) optimization techniques. One has just to look to the content of most of the recent books on managerial economics in order to be convinced of this requirement.
Fortunately it is not necessary, and even not possible in actual state of knowledge, to measure the present value of the future receipts of each alternative kept for analysis. In fact, the manager only keeps in mind alternatives which seem to be acceptable i.e. those whose present value is equal to or exceeds the respective economic commitment. It is sufficient to tempt to apprehend in the best possible manner the many dimensions of the kept alternatives in order to be able to arrange them in order and make the optimal choice.
In managerial economies, alternatives must be considered in terms of cost and revenue. One usually distinguishes current expenses from capital expenses, the latter being similar to investment. This distinction, primarily of accounting origin, does not have any economic meaning. In fact, any economic commitment, or use of resources, for the present or future periods, must be measured in relation to the present value of future receipts thus generated.
We must also say that most of current expenses, in the accounting sense of the word, generate revenues and consequently a profit (loss) that could be equalized to the economic profit for the purposes of actual management. This is due to the fact that the current expense, as defined by the accountant, generates a revenue only during the same period.
The interest of this approximation, not to say equality, rests in the possibility of using modern methods of accounting management in managerial economies 12. At the same time the managerial economist considerably reduces the number of alternatives to be evaluated by new and sometimes difficult methods. The main alternatives which cannot be conveniently handled for the present time by the accountant are those regarding investments, research and development, public and human relations, publicity, etc. One could give to these types of alternatives two common characteristics : in the first place a more or less high degree of uncertainty regarding the results forecasted for many years, and in the second place a more or less complex flow or relationships between the different alternatives.
The impact of a decision is as much in space than in time, within a firm or within a group of firms. One will never perfectly know such impact : that is why we will have to continually enlarge the frontiers of knowledge. Another reason for this is the fact that optimization techniques cannot generally be directly applied to each specific problem of decision without a previous adaptation. This implies at the same time that managers and other specialists of the firm must have better knowledge of mathematics which enables them to use these techniques with the best possible result.
In addition to this, specialists will probably always have to evaluate the alternatives in relation to sub-objectives. But the managers will have to choose in last resort the optimal alternative in terms of economic profit. In other words, techniques can only lead to a sub-optimization but the managers must do more i.e. optimize. Firm specialists must only suggest choices or make routine decisions ; the managers have the responsibility of doing the synthesis in tempting to apprehend in the best way possible the dimensions of a decision in terms of the final objective.
The main objection to the quantified model lies in the impossibility of apprehending the dimensions of reality and especially to measure some of them. But this is not the real problem. For, at the starting point, nobody can deny this impossibility : it is the evidence. But does this imply that the firm manager, or anyone who prepares a decision, can trust his intuition? It seems undeniable that this way of behavior is less and less appropriate and that the scientific method rapidly takes over. That is how the model for improving decisions consists of evaluating in the best manner a reasonable number of alternatives in terms of economic profit leading to an optimal choice.
The model for improving decisions is in the first place a general frame in which the decisions of the firm could be laid down. We must study specific problems, such as stock management, in using techniques in one particular area of management, but the proposed solutions must be incorporated in the global model.
A particular effort must be done in order to come out which a better definition of the objective and sub-objectives of the firm and to quantify the means to achieve them, while realizing that the firm constitutes a system in the cybernetic sense and that we must then give an increasing importance to the control and regulation mechanisms.
We agree with Lesourne 13 who predicts the evolution of economic studies in the two following ways :
— « Les critères seront plus riches et s'adapteront davantage à la situation réelle de l'entreprise.
— L'effort de mesure sera plus intense et permettra d'accroître le domaine du quantitatif ».
(1) CLELAND, SHERRILL, « A Short Essay on a Managerial Theory of the Firm », in Linear Programming and the Theory of the Firm, by Boulding et Spivey, the Macmillan Company, New York, 1960, p. 208.
(2) NORDQUIST, GERALD L., « The Breakup of the Maximization Principle », in The Quarterly Review of Economics and Business, University of Illinois, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1965, p. 33.
(3) CYERT, RICHARD M. and MARCH, JAMES G., A Behiavioral Theory of the Firm, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1963, p. 6.
(4) CLELAND, op. cit. p. 208
(5) GOETZ, BILLY E.,Quantitative Methods: a survey and guide for managers, McGraw-Hill Inc., 1965, p. 24.
(6) NORDQUIST, op. cit. p. 43.
(7) COASE, R.H., « The Nature of the Firm », Economica, New Series Vol IV (1937), pp. 386-405.
(8) DRUCKER, PETER, « La fonction d'entrepreneur dans l'entreprise économique »Bulletin des Relations industrielles, Vol. 3, No. 17, May 6, 1965, p. 5.
(9) NEMMERS, ERWIN ESSER, Managerial Economics, John Wiley & Sons Inc 1964, p. VII
(10) SCITOVSKY, TIBOR, « Recent Publications on Cost », Accountina Review XVIII (1943), p. 72.
(11) DRUCKER, op. cit. p. 5.
(12) One must refer, for instance, to the Direct Costing method as exposed by Gérard de Bodt in Direct Costing et programmation économique de l'entreprise à produits multiples, Dunod, Paris, 1964.
(13) LESOURNE, J., Du bon usage de l’étude économique dans l'entreprise, Collection Recherche et Décision, Dunod, Paris, 1966, p. 156.
Earl F. Beach
Cette étude a été soumise aux membres de l’Association Canadienne Française pour l’Avancement des Sciences, lors de leur congrès tenu à Québec en novembre 1966. Notre but est de critiquer certaines théories partielles et d'ébaucher une esquisse d'une théorie globale qui nous permettra de comparer l’interaction des processus de l'automation et leurs répercussions sur les problèmes soulevés dans une économie fermée en croissance. Cette étude n’est pas exhaustive; mais elle voudrait susciter des réactions et un certain intérêt pour un problème qui semble devoir affecter sérieusement notre avenir économique.
Current economic theories of the effect of automation are very incomplete, giving no clear-cut conclusions of the over-all effect on the pace of automation and changes in total employment. A theory is sketched out here to suggest that the total effect is positive, that is that automation tends to increase total employment rather than decrease it. This is very important because many of the numerous current arguments are based on the assumption that automation in general decreases employment and that we may tolerate automation only because it increases productivity and economic welfare. Inherent in the misunderstanding is the assumption that labour's position is worsened by automation to the benefit of capital. It is certainly true that there is danger to specific jobs, and union organizations based upon them. But the demand for labour as a whole tends to increase, according to our new global theory, as the pace of automation quickens. During an economic recession we should increase automation, not decrease it.
The proof of this theory remains as yet sketchy, but what is offered here does provide substantial support for its belief, and very little support for the opposition. The argument leaves aside questions of changing costs and prices and elasticities of demand which explain the sharing of improving productivity. It uses a simple model of homogeneous man-hours of work, balancing the man hours lost through the installation of machines against the man hours required in the production and installation of the machines. It takes into account the fact that the machines must be produced and installed before they cause unemployment, that those rendered unemployed will tend to seek employment elsewhere and not remain indefinitely unemployed, and that the amount of employment in making machines is likely to be large indeed relative to the loss of employment during the few months succeeding the installation.
This theory throws in relief the very great importance of high mobility of labour, and the training and information services needed to assist in this mobility. The size of the employing organization is of some importance in helping with such adjustments, as in the basic schooling of the whole population.
More information is needed to assess these matters, and the theory suggests the kind of information that is needed for such assessment. We need to know for example who are actually thrown out of work, how long a period of unemployment is experienced by those who are rendered unemployed by automation.
John F. Fryer
In the following article, the author tries to demonstrate how collective bargaining is likely to remain the corners-tone of our industrial relations system in developing successful adjustment programmes to cope with technological change. He underlines also some necessary change in bargaining attitudes.
Le travailleur est le membre de la société le plus directement touché par l'avènement de l'automation et autres changements technologiques. Ces changements auxquels il doit sans cesse s'ajuster ont contribué à le placer dans un climat d'insécurité, et la négociation collective, possible par l'entremise de son syndicat, est l'approche la plus directe qu'il puisse utiliser en vue d'obtenir une certaine sécurité à son emploi. Aussi ne faut-il pas se surprendre du fait que la sécurité de l'emploi ait reçu une importance accrue dans les négociations au cours des dernières années.
Bien qu'elle ne doive pas être considérée comme un substitut à des politiques gouvernementales en matière d'ajustements de main-d'oeuvre, la négociation collective peut apporter une contribution importante à la solution des problèmes inhérents à l'introduction de changements technologiques. Les approches traditionnelles de négociation, cependant, devront être réexaminées, réévaluées et peut-être délaissées en faveur de techniques nouvelles et parfois plus radicales qui seront mieux adaptées aux nouveaux besoins des travailleurs.
Actuellement, des considérations d'ordre légaliste et contractuel, telle la théorie des droits résiduels de la direction, font obstacle à cette redéfinition du rôle de la négociation collective.
Au nom de cette théorie, qui stipule que tout ce qui n'est pas inscrit de façon spécifique dans la convention est du ressort exclusif de la direction, beaucoup trop d'employeurs refusent de discuter de l'introduction de changements avec l'employé, même si cela peut coûter son emploi à ce dernier. Pour le travailleur, la perte de l'emploi représente plus qu'une perte de revenu. Même s'il a la chance d'être embauché ailleurs, il sera placé au bas de l'échelle d'ancienneté et ses chances de promotion, sa vulnérabilité en cas de mise à pied, la durée de ses vacances, ses prestations de retraite en seront profondément affectées.
Le juge Freedman, dans le rapport de la Commission d'enquête industrielle instituée dans le secteur des chemins de fer en 1964, montre bien les vicissitudes d'une telle conception. En plus de l'impossibilité physique pour les parties de prévoir toutes les situations pouvant survenir pendant la durée de la convention, il y a le danger que l'employeur attende délibérément après la signature du contrat pour introduire des changements, moment où les employés n'ont plus aucun recours.
Comme la décision de moderniser de l'équipement ou de déplacer une usine ne se prend pas à la légère et demande une certaine période de réflexion, le commissaire Freedman estime qu'il est de la responsabilité et du devoir de la direction de retarder l'introduction de changements technologiques jusqu'à ce que le syndicat concerné en soit avisé et ait eu l'opportunité d'en faire un item sujet à négociation. Un moyen d'amener la négociation des changements technologiques consisterait à amender la Loi sur les relations industrielles et les enquêtes visant les différends du travail.
Lors de sa convention biannuelle tenue à Winnipeg en 1966, le Congrès du Travail du Canada a endossé les recommandations du rapport Freedman et a de plus demandé que des modifications législatives en ce sens soient apportées par les gouvernements fédéral et provinciaux.
La négociation collective a un rôle vital à jouer parce qu'il n'y a pas réellement d'alternative acceptable. Le syndicalisme n'abandonnera pas cette formule sous prétexte qu'elle ne peut apporter de solutions à tous les problèmes. Au surplus, elle est suffisamment flexible et les parties en connaissent déjà bien le fonctionnement.
La négociation devra être utilisée avec beaucoup d'imagination et d'ouverture d'esprit des deux côtés de la table. L'apport des comités de collaboration patronale-ouvrière va faciliter de beaucoup la tâche des représentants des deux parties. Des études intensives, des communications fréquentes et informelles, des discussions sur des sujets habituellement abordé dans un climat de crise, des incitations à faire l'expérience de nouvelles formules, tout cela devrait soulager le fardeau de la négociation, à condition, cependant, que cela reste subordonné à l'épreuve de force qui appartient à juste titre à la négociation proprement dite. En somme de tels comités ont des pouvoirs d'investigation et de recommandation, la responsabilité finale incombant aux parties à la table des négociations.
Déjà, et en dépit des obstacles légaux, certains contrats collectifs, encore trop peu nombreux, assurent aux travailleurs des gains monétaires reliés à la productivité et des mesures protectrices face aux changements technologiques. Par exemple, un plan de conversion industrielle prévoyant le financement d'un fond de $5 millions par la compagnie Dominion Tar and Chemical a été élaboré en vue de faciliter les ajustements de main-d'oeuvre à l'intérieur de cette entreprise.
En l'absence de législation protectrice il reviendra à la négociation collective de combler le vide. Mais des recherches intensives seront nécessaires et les parties devront être « recyclées » et entraînées à mettre sur pied de nouvelles solutions.
Cela ne sera pas facile. Il faudra faire face à une opposition de la part de certains éléments syndicaux ; mais c'est surtout des cercles patronaux que viendront les critiques les plus véhémentes.
Jurisprudence du travail
L'affaire Patino Mining Corporation 1 illustre la difficulté de ratifier les actes d'une collectivité au moyen d'instruments juridiques traditionnels. Pour une fois, il s'agit d'un cas où les faits sont simples et la preuve, claire et non contradictoire.
(1) [Patino Mining Corporotion c. Les Métallurgistes-Unis d'Amérique (5914) 1967.R.D.T. p. 65. A chaque citation de la décision, nous indiquerons la référence à cette dernière revue. ]
Une récente décision arbitrale 1 met en lumière quelques difficultés inhérentes au gouvernement des associations de salariés. Sous le couvert de l'efficacité, plusieurs associations confient à leurs principaux officiers de larges pouvoirs discrétionnaires. A un tel prix, il est parfois possible d'obtenir une administration dynamique et souple. Il nous faut savoir alors ce qu'il en coûte à la démocratie syndicale. En raison de la rareté de décision sur un tel sujet, nous en présentons un résumé ordonné, pour formuler par la suite, quelques observations.
(1) Canadair Limited c. Aircraft Lodge 712 of the International Association of machinists;cette décision apparaît en entier à 1967, R.D.T., p. 1.
Un arbitre 1 se fonde sur la supériorité du texte de la convention pour refuser de donner effet à une pratique antérieure, mais contraire à celle-ci. Est-ce à nier la survie de tout usage pendant la durée de l'entente?
(1) Me Harold Lande, dans l'affaire Commission Hydroélectrique de Québec c. Le Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (957), décision du 1er mars 1967, rapportée à (1967) R.DT. p. 184.
Recensions / Book Reviews
Report of a Study on the Labour Injunction in Ontario, Ontario Department of Labour Octobre 1966, 769 pages.
The Settlement of Labor Disputes on Rights in Australia, Paul F. Brisseden, Monograph series : 13, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Los Angeles, 1966, 125 pages.
Days of Our Years with Labor, par Robert C. Knee, The W.H. Anderson Company, Cincinnati, 1966, 160 pages.
Labor Relations, by Arthur A. Sloane et Fred Witney, Prentice Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967, 450 pages.
Manpower Planning in a Free Society, by Richard A. Lester, Princeton University Press, Published by Saunders of Toronto Ltd, 1966, 22 pages.
Information and Economic Progress, Hower R. Bowen and Garth L. Mangum, Editors, 170 p. $ 4.95, Clothbound/$1.95 paper, Prentice-Hall Inc., 1967.
Benjamin S. Kirsh
Automation and Economic Progress, par Howard R. Bowen et Garth L. Mangum, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1966, 170 pages.
Modern Economic Growth, Rate, Structure and Spread, Simon Kuznets, New Haven and London Yale University Press, 1966. 529 pages.
Public Contracts and Private Wages : Experience under the Walsh-Healy Act, Herbert C. Morton. The Brookings Institution, Washington, 1965, 132 pages.
« La formation professionnelle », Revue française du Travail, 20e année, No 3, juillet – septembre 1966, Ministère des Affaires sociales, Paris.
Doctors and Nurses in Industry, R.L. Goldstein et B. Goldstein, Research Section, Institute of Management and Labor Relations, The State University New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1967, 96 pages.
Social Commitment, Rev. Everett J. Morgan, S.J., McCutchan Publishing Corporation, California, 1967, 258 pages.
Tous droits réservés © Département des relations industrielles de l'Université Laval, 1967