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Many managers are influenced by dangerous myths about pay [#permalink]
06 Mar 2005, 14:54
Many managers are influenced by
dangerous myths about pay that lead
to counterproductive decisions about
Line how their companies compensate
(5) employees. One such myth is that
labor rates, the rate per hour paid to
workers, are identical with labor costs,
the money spent on labor in relation to
the productivity of the labor force.
(10) This myth leads to the assumption that
a company can simply lower its labor
costs by cutting wages. But labor
costs and labor rates are not in fact
the same: one company could pay
(15) its workers considerably more than
another and yet have lower labor
costs if that company's productivity
were higher due to the talent of its
workforce, the efficiency of its work
(20) processes, or other factors. The
confusion of costs with rates per-
sists partly because labor rates are
a convenient target for managers who
want to make an impact on their com-
(25) pany's budgets. Because labor rates
are highly visible, managers can easily
compare their company's rates with
those of competitors. Furthermore,
labor rates often appear to be a
(30) company's most malleable financial
variable: cutting wages appears an
easier way to control costs than such
options as reconfiguring work pro-
cesses or altering product design.
(35) The myth that labor rates and labor
costs are equivalent is supported by
business journalists, who frequently
confound the two. For example, prom-
inent business journals often remark on
(40) the high cost of German labor, citing
as evidence the average amount paid
to German workers. The myth is also
perpetuated by the compensation-
consulting industry, which has its own
(45) incentives to keep such myths alive.
First, although some of these con-
sulting firms have recently broadened
their practices beyond the area of
compensation, their mainstay con-
(50) tinues to be advising companies on
changing their compensation prac-
tices. Suggesting that a company's
performance can be improved in
some other way than by altering its
(55) pay system may be empirically cor-
rect but contrary to the consultants'
interests. Furthermore, changes
to the compensation system may
appear to be simpler to implement
(60) than changes to other aspects of an
organization, so managers are more
likely to find such advice from con-
sultants palatable. Finally, to the
extant that changes in compensation
(65) create new problems, the consultants
will continue to have work solving the
problems that result from their advice.
1. The author of the passage suggests which of the following about the advice that the consulting firms discussed in the passage customarily give to companies attempting to control costs?
A. It often fails to bring about the intended changes in companies' compensation systems.
B. It has highly influenced views that predominate in prominent business journals.
C. It tends to result in decreased labor rates but increased labor costs.
D. It leads to changes in companies' compensation practices that are less visible than changes to work processes would be.
E. It might be different if the consulting firms were less narrowly specialized.
2. The author of the passage mentions business journals (line 39) primarily in order to
A. demonstrate how a particular kind of evidence can be used to support two different conclusions
B. cast doubt on a particular view about the average amount paid to German workers
C. suggest that business journalists may have a vested interest in perpetuating a particular view
D. identify one source of support for a view common among business managers
E. indicate a way in which a particular myth could be dispelled
3. It can be inferred from the passage that the author would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about compensation?
A. A company's labor costs are not affected by the efficiency of its work processes.
B. High labor rates are not necessarily inconsistent with the goals of companies that want to reduce costs
C. It is more difficult for managers to compare their companies' labor rates with those of competitors than to compare labor costs.
D. A company whose labor rates are high is unlikely to have lower labor costs than other companies.
E. Managers often use information about competitors' labor costs to calculate those companies' labor rates.
4. According to the passage, which of the following is true about changes to a company's compensation system?
A. They are often implemented in conjunction with a company's efforts to reconfigure its work processes.
B. They have been advocated by prominent business journals as the most direct way for a company to bring about changes in its labor costs.
C. They are more likely to result in an increase in labor costs than they are to bring about competitive advantages for the company.
D. They sometimes result in significant cost savings but are likely to create labor-relations problems for the company.
E. They may seem to managers to be relatively easy to implement compared with other kinds of changes managers might consider.
I had to go back to the passage more times than I would like to answer the questions. There are quite a few distortions in the answer choices which look correct, but cannot directly be infered from the passage I think.
1. "to the
extant that changes in compensation
(65) create new problems", if the changes to the systems had the intended effect there would not be new problems, so A here seems to capture the effect of consutant's advise.
4. the passage doesn't state much about competitive advantage as a result of changes to the company's compensation system. There is mention of comparison of numbers with competitors, but no direct connection that the chane itself would bring about comp. advantage. E is sprinkled in several places in the passage, so picking E here.