「專業尖兵」VS.「子弟鄉親」——消失中的企業省籍門檻

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1993 / 11月

文‧胡珍妮 圖‧薛繼光


到了民國八十年代的今天,說起省籍情結,大部分的人都認為那是過時陳腐的話題了,只有政治人物才會捧著冷飯當熱鍋。然而,對於主宰台灣經濟命脈的企業界,長年來卻一直沒有擺脫「省籍門檻」蜚短流長的圍繞。真相到底如何呢?


「記得在六十一年本人自軍中退伍下來,手持籍貫遼寧省海城縣的簡歷片,走進自認可以勝任的公司行號求職,一一被退回。此次由美國回國再以同樣的籍貫到處覓職,至今仍兩手空空。余常在冷風冷雨的夜晚自思,以四十年華、大專學歷,十數年工作經驗,為何找不到一個工作?事實上部分的答案在十年前就已知道,如今仍是同樣的答案:『限台籍』……」這是民國七十六年刊載在自立晚報上的一篇讀者投書。

有這樣疑心的人不只他一位。有人說,某些企業在應徵新人時習慣用台語面試,不會講台語就很難錄取;有人說,在台塑、長榮、國泰等台籍企業集團中,外省人很難「出頭天」;也有人說,外省籍老闆會「政策性」地提拔外省子弟……

蕃薯老闆蕃薯夥計?

所有的傳言都指向一個隱諱曖昧的疑點:省籍隔閡是否存在於企業的人事制度?

中央研究院民族學研究所助研究員王甫昌在民國七十八年時,曾針對台灣兩千兩百多家重要企業的省籍組成狀況做了一項統計研究,結果發現,在三分之二的企業中,老板與經理級以上人員的省籍同質性極高。從數據上顯示,在本省公司的經理人員中,本省籍的比例高達百分之九十二,而外省公司中,外省籍的經理則佔百分之六十二;甚至有百分之七十九的本省老闆及百分之卅四的外省老闆,其身邊的經理大將,百分之百都與他同屬「省籍一族」。

「別看本省公司和外省公司的比例好像差很多,要知道外省籍人口在台灣總人口中只佔百分之十四,所以外省公司中省籍隔閡的傾向也算很明顯」,王甫昌指出。

事實上,根據民國八十年中華徵信所出版的「中華民國企業經理人名錄」的省籍背景看來,「蕃薯企業」和「芋仔企業」的色彩的確在許多企業中還相當鮮明。

去年七月中旬兩大報職業欄就出現了一則這樣的徵募廣告。「某大企業新設藝術中心,誠徵秘書一名,行政企劃助理數名,大專以上畢業,具行政能力及藝文素涵,有英、日文基礎者尤佳,本省籍南部人優先。(北上車資補助)」廣告主是北部一家知名的墓園企業——金寶山事業機構,廣告稿由其董事長曹日章親自撰擬,當時吸引了百餘名社會新鮮人前往應徵。在經過汰選、面試、復試後,最後由曹日章親自圈選定奪,錄取的七名新人都符合他的期望:台灣籍。

人不親土親

穿梭在台北東區的大樓叢林中,可以清楚感受到台灣經濟蓬勃跳躍的脈搏。在整個社會日趨多元化、現代化的今天,令人很難相信舊時代省籍隔閡的現象仍在企業中殘存。

「但這是很自然的現象」,負責輔導台灣中小企業現代化,慣於以積極眼光觀察現象的中國生產力中心副總經理萬以寧認為,回顧這些企業的創業背景,省籍色彩的形成是可以理解的。

民國四十到六十年代,正是台灣社會凝聚日後經濟發展條件的奠基期,現在主掌台灣經貿脈流的中大型企業,當時正生根草創。「回溯那個年代,『二二八事件』剛過去不久,省籍對立的情形的確存在,而且本省人和外省人在語言上連溝通都有問題;這種情形下,人要創業當然是找語言相通、思想觀念接近的同伴。想想看,大家在一起講家鄉話,這種親切感就很不同」,萬以寧說。

同鄉一家親,中國人本來就注重家族倫理及同鄉情誼,在胼手胝足打創天下之際,自然會發展出以家族和鄉親為核心的企業基礎,日長月久下來,便形成了後來企業界「幫派」及「家族」山頭林立的現象。像台灣本地的「台南幫」、「三重幫」、「嘉義幫」,及大陸飄洋過海來台形成的「江浙幫」、「山東幫」、「河北幫」,都是時空背景下的產物。

「其實,省籍分野是依附在這種血緣及地緣關係之下的副產品」,萬以寧指出。

台語是我們企業的母語!

統一集團是台南幫的大本營,從不諱言「本土化」的企業色彩。即使位居首善都會的台北公司,也可使人從此起彼落的「下港台語(閩南語)」聲腔中,感受到企業的草根性。

「統一公司目前在經理級以上主管並沒有外省籍人士」,統一企業公關部襄理楊玉寶坦然地說,由於早年企業創辦時就鎖定「嘉惠地方」的人事政策,因此目前為止,公司中的資深主管都是清一色從基層升起的台南人。

「早期公司裡的會議從上到下都是台語發音,因為主持人就是用台語主持嘛。在本企業中大家講台語比較習慣」,楊玉寶表示。

台灣前一百大的企業集團中百分之七十七是台籍領導,老一輩的領導者幾乎都是在母語教育及日式教育的背景下成長,說起國語來往往造成語意不暢、用詞枯竭的窘境,因而形成企業領導階層的台語風;再加上員工也以本省人居多,上者風行,下者景從,企業的母語文化就這樣產生了。

語言需求區隔省籍?

然而這種自然衍生的母語文化,卻使外界對企業人事產生了「省籍門檻」的質疑。

籍貫安徽、台大農經所畢業,目前任教於銘傳管理學院的某講師,對企業體在語言上的本土傾向便頗不以為然。三年前,他曾到統一企業應徵工作,但由於當時他堅持用國語跟面試主管交談,場面一度尷尬,事後也沒有被錄取。「每個地方都有方言,但在公開場合最好用國語」,他認為。

第一個打破和成衛浴企業省籍壁壘的「外省仔」顧成棟卻認為,企業的語言政策有時的確基於實際上的需要,並不一定是「福佬沙文主義」作祟。「以和成為例,我們接觸往來的對象,不是一般水電工,就是建築師及經銷商,而他們大部分都是本省人,業務上用台語的情形非常多。」

統一企業的人事副理施明秀也指出,事業體的運作當然是市場導向,在往來客戶九成以上是本省人時,企業對員工的語言要求是合理的。但語言要求並不是區分省籍,外省人若能用台語溝通,進統一企業一樣沒問題;本省人如果講台語講得「不輪轉」(不流利),適用性上也會打折扣。

近年來,由於統一企業的發展規模越來越大,地方人才早已供不應求,因此必須在各地就地取材,年輕的外省籍人才也開始進入企業,將漸漸打破「台灣台南」的界線。

早年經驗

要在市場上建立良好的人際網路,語言是首要的溝通工具;而在早年,本省及外省人由於語言及人脈資源上南轅北轍,也形成了雙方經濟活動領域的差異。

中研院社會科學研究所研究員林忠正在研究早年本省外省族群的經濟差異時就發現,本省企業的經營項目多往大眾扎根,在整體經濟產業結構上屬於中下游製造業;而外省企業則多往上游的原料工業發展,可以避開人脈資源不足的市場弱勢。

回顧台灣早年的發展經驗,民國卅九年政府遷台時,從沿海大城市同時遷來了一批重要的企業,僅僅從上海就遷來了十家紡織工廠,大量的資金、設備、技術、人才,正好填補了日本人撤退後的空缺,由於當時台灣的精英大都投入農業、醫界,於是這些大陸來的技術精英便自成體系,成為台灣早年工商發展的主力。

很多「外省企業」,就是在當時基於共同經驗、技術、以及出門在外的同鄉情誼而組成的。

裕隆企業是號稱中的「江浙幫」的一員,雖然如今在管理領導階層中已看不出明顯的外省色彩,但回顧早年,裕隆汽車公司總經理李振華也承認曾有那麼一段淵源。

民國四十二年,裕隆欲開創機械製造公司,由於當時台灣社會只有軍方才有這方面的專業技術,便到空軍延攬人才,「而這些人當然都是外省人。」於是早年的裕隆不可避免地充滿了外省色彩。但在日後透過招考培訓人員後,本省籍人才逐漸進入公司,民國六十年代後,省籍色彩就已經消失了。

省籍情結難解?

當然,造成企業界省籍門檻的成因,也非全由血緣、地緣、語言等自然條件所形成;部分確是刻意架設。

由於四十年前國府遷台後,國家主權控制在所謂的「外省人」手中,主要工商企業、經濟實力也以「外省人」為主體,因此過去很多工商界的主席、理事長等重要領袖位階,多由「外省人」擔任,以發展企業跟中央政府的良好關係。

但這種現象看在一些本省人眼中,則對外省人普遍存有「長袖善舞」、「八面玲瓏」的負面印象。直到如今,少數老輩的企業領導者對外省人仍有揮不去的戒心,像金寶山企業的曹日章就毫不諱言他的心結。

「外省人大部分個性狡猾,善於言詞,喜歡狡辯而不務勞力,很適合擔任想點子、動嘴巴的工作,但其忠誠度有限,常會因利忘義,讓老板吃悶虧。」曹日章說,他這種觀點是「四十年來吃虧、受害的心得」。

去年,金寶山在發展關係企業徵招新人的廣告上,就坦白指明「本省籍南部人優先」。曹日章的看法是:「同是台灣籍,北部人被國民黨那些外省人的習氣『污染』得較嚴重;中南部人較保有台灣人原來純樸、吃苦耐勞、忠誠可靠的本性。」就是這個觀念,曹日章在用人上一直有偏好本省人的固執。

制度取代人治

像曹日章這樣大張旗幟的省籍好惡,在中大型的企業中已隨著四十年來的省籍融合而逐漸褪色。然而在中小企業中,由於人際關係緊密,企業主的習慣好惡對人事選才常握有絕對的影響力,而台灣的中小企業又吸納了百分之七十的就業人口,因此充滿了種種「個別特色的小群體」。

「在中小企業中,老闆和員工的關係不只是雇傭,還是長晚輩、同鄉親戚的私人關係,因此會以個人好惡選取員工」,林忠正指出,台灣的大型企業早年也是如此,因此公司權力核心會形成某種同質色彩,也是很自然的事。

但這種情形在公司規模擴大,部門分工專業化後,自然會減低。「並不是現象不存在,而是縮小集中到限於領導階層的圈圈去了。」林忠正認為,在一般性的專業人員中,很難再有什麼色彩設限了。

台塑企業就是一個很典型的例子。過去台塑一直以本省色彩著稱,但在企業擴張,選才任用全部憑考試之後,已經逐漸脫離省籍門檻的標記。像去年關於六輕何時動工的問題,媒體整天盯著台塑要答案時,這家本土形象濃厚的企業竟由一位外省籍的公關——任兆權代表發言,便造成話題外的話題。同樣的情形也發生在其他大規模企業集團的體質改變上,由於制度化的運作,人治操縱的因素迅速降低,企業正不斷吸納大批多元的新生代。

目前在台塑南亞公司任職的王安宜是一位「純浙江」第二代,她在畢業時就認知到:要找工作絕不能找小公司,必須要進大企業才能避免語言及省籍問題。於是她選擇了台塑,雖然時常可聽到令她一頭霧水的台語,但在企業也逐日「國語化」時,她在適應上沒有任何問題。

炊精神

一位哈佛大學東亞系博士班學生王明珂形容台灣社會是「炊社會」。炊是黃牛和犛牛的混血種,兼有黃牛的溫馴及犛牛的強壯,又能適應高原和谷地的落差,是西藏最有價值的牛;而台灣社會中,本省、外省透過血統、文化、語言上的融合,早已產出集各家之長的下一代,應該發揮出「炊精神」才對。

台灣企業界的領袖、和信企業集團的領導人辜振甫,可以算是台灣炊精神的代表。他有台灣的省籍背景,卻沒有台灣的地域色彩,這種寬闊無界的個人風格,一直為台灣本省外省人共同推崇。對於企業界曾有的省籍門檻現象,他用他一貫超然廣闊的眼光表示:「或許因為企業的第一代過去比較沒有受到宏觀教育的啟發,因此較容易以個人經驗或主觀偏好為選才任用的標準。」這種標準有時候是同鄉省籍,有時候是宗教信仰,但透過族群間通婚、教育、語言同化的過程,觀念會漸漸改變。同時,企業第二代的眼界也因教育提高而放遠,不可能再固守老一輩的標準。

「現在是用人唯才的時代,尤其現在政府的經濟政策是走向自由化、國際化,希望國內的企業能到國際上跟同業競爭,企業連國外的人才都要吸收了,還談省籍門檻嗎?」辜振甫頗不以為然地說。

勞資問題取代省籍問題

在新竹工業園區,一群留美歸國的青年工程師聚在一部電腦螢幕前竭力苦思,他們正在修整一個龐大複雜的程式。

從他們身上看不出來是「本省人」或「外省人」,國際及專業的色彩已經蓋過了他們的本籍特徵。

民國六十年代後,很多本省、外省第二代因共同的專業知識及理想一起創業;而從台灣一百大企業經理人的省籍資料中,也可以看出省籍混合型領導的企業正在逐年增加,從民國六十七年的百分之六,增加到八十年的百分之十二,雖不算高速成長,但已可以明顯看出這種融合的趨勢。

「在沒有去過大陸前,我覺得台灣好像確實有省籍問題。但去過大陸幾次後,我對省籍問題就再也不談了,反正本省人外省人到了大陸都只有一個共同的名字——台胞」,裕隆汽車副總徐善可指出。

萬以寧認為,企業家是最實際、前瞻的,講求效率與成本利潤,很多企業在走向國際化後,急欲融入當地都來不及了,像到廣東、香港都要學會講廣東話,到北京要學京片子,以便於管理。這種情況下,企業不可能再走回頭路對自己人設限。

「企業中的省籍問題?我想,現在已經被新的勞資問題取代了。」這是戰略生產力雜誌副總編輯蔡淑賢的觀察。或許,也正是企業界對這個老問題的時代性結論。

〔圖片說明〕

P.100

儘管部分大型企業或多或少被貼上省籍標籤,仍無阻「異省籍」專業人才叩門闖進的決心。(蔡智本繪圖)

P.102

政府遷台帶來了大批技術人才及資本家,成為台灣早年工商發展的主力。(裕隆企業提供)

P.103

外資企業進入國內,國內企業遠渡重洋,當商業網路逐漸國際化,企業的省籍門檻也漸趨模糊。

P.104

本省企業極重信仰習俗,中元節不忘在公司設起祭壇,祭拜好兄弟。

P.105

「二二八事件」是造成省籍隔閡的重要關鍵,近年來經過有心人士的大力奔走及政府的誠意彌補,已建立了「族群融合」的共識。圖為二二八紀念日的遊行畫面。(邱瑞金攝)

P.106

近年房地產業發展蓬勃、競爭激烈,業務員為了達成銷售,幾乎都要具備國台語「雙聲帶」的能力。

P.107

大部分人在初創業時都會以家族、鄉親為班底,胼手胝足共創天下。

P.108

跨過省籍門檻之後,專業能力及同儕關係成為企業選才任用的重要憑據。

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Jenny Hu /photos courtesy of Hsueh Chi-kuang /tr. by Christopher Hughes

In the present decade, mention the provincial complex and most people think it is a topic of conversation well past its shelf life; only politicians would bother to reheat such an old dish. Nevertheless, in the business circles that have been the life-blood of Taiwan's economy, rumors of a "provincial bar" have never been cast off over the years. So what is the true situation?


"I remember that when I was demobilized from the army in 1972, I carried a short-form resume which recorded my place of origin as Haicheng County, Liaoning Province. When I went to look for work at companies where I thought I had a good chance, I was rejected by one after another. This time, returning from the United States, I again used the same resume to look all over the place to find a job, but I am still empty-handed. I often think to myself in the quiet of night; at 40 years of age, with a higher education, and more than 10 years' work experience, why can I not find work? In fact, I already knew part of the answer ten years ago, and today it is still the same answer: 'restricted to Taiwanese." This was a reader's letter that appeared in the Independence Evening Post in 1987.

Such suspicion is not an isolated case. Some people say that when certain businesses are looking for new staff they are accustomed to speaking Taiwanese in interviews. If you cannot speak Taiwanese, then it is very hard to be accepted. Others say that in conglomerates such as Formosa Plastics, Evergreen and Cathay, it is very hard for those from outside Taiwan to make headway. Then there are those who say that bosses from other Chinese provinces will systematically promote their brethren from the Chinese mainland.

Taiwanese boss--Taiwanese workers?:

Such rumors seem to point to a covered up suspicious point: does the provincial barrier exist in the personnel systems of businesses?

In 1989, Wang Fu-chang, an assistant researcher in Academia Sinica's Institute of Ethnology, undertook statistical research into the provincial makeup of the personnel structures of some 2200 of Taiwan's most important businesses. He discovered that in two-thirds of the businesses, at the managerial level and above, there was a high level of personnel of the same provincial background. From the figures it could be seen that among the managers of Taiwanese companies, the proportion of natives of Taiwan was as high as 92 percent; in mainlander companies, managers from other provinces made up 62 percent of the total. It was even found that 79 percent of native Taiwanese employers and 34 percent of those who originated from mainland China had right-hand men and managers who were 100 percent from the same "provincial clan."

"Do not just see that the proportion is lower in mainland companies than native Taiwanese companies. You should also know that the size of the population originating from provinces outside Taiwan is only 14 percent of the total. So the provincial barrier among non-Taiwanese companies can be considered to be very clear," points out Wang Fu-chang.

In fact, according to the provincial backgrounds given in the list of managers in ROC enterprises published by the China Credit Information Service in 1991, the particular coloring of many mainlander enterprises and many Taiwanese enterprises is very clear.

In July last year the following advertisement appeared in the jobs columns of the two main newspapers: "New art center of large enterprise seeks one secretary and several executive planning assistants. Must be junior college graduates or above, capable of executive work with artistic flare. Good foundation in English and Japanese. Preferably of southern Taiwanese origin. (Subsidy for northbound train)." The company which placed the advertisement was a well-known cemetery company, Chinpao Shan. The text was selected by the director general, Tsao Jih-chang. It drew applications from more than a hundred people. After a process of elimination, interviews, and second interviews, the final result was decided by Tsao Jih-chang. The seven successful new people were just as he had wanted--all Taiwanese.

Territorial kinship:

Wandering among the forest of skyscrapers of eastern Taipei you can clearly feel the pulse of Taiwan's economic vitality. With the increasing pluralism across the whole of society and the modernization of today, it is very hard to believe that the provincial barriers of a bygone era still persist in businesses.

"But this is a very natural phenomenon," says Ben Wan, who is responsible for counselling small and medium sized businesses on modernization. As vice president of the China Productivity Center, he observes the phenomenon with great acuity. Looking back at how these businesses started up, how they came to have their provincial coloring can be understood.

The 1950s to the 1970s was a period when the conditions for Taiwan's economic development were laid throughout society. It was at this time that the main stream of today's medium and large businesses put down roots. "Tracing things back to that time, the February 28 Incident was not long past and there was actually much friction between people originating in Taiwan and those from other provinces. There was also a language problem when it came to communicating between the two groups. In this kind of situation, when people wanted to start up a business, of course they would find other people with the same language and on the same wavelength to be their partners. Think about it, with everybody together speaking the language of their home town, the feelings of kinship were really very different," says Ben Wan.

Those from the same village are often as close as family members. Chinese people originally paid great attention to the morality of the family and village fraternity. In struggling along together, businesses founded on the core of family and kinship ties would evolve naturally. As time passed, the phenomenon of today's numerous business "cliques" and "clans," appeared such as the Tainan, Sanchung and Chiayi cliques of Taiwan; and the Jiangsu, Shandong, and Hebei cliques formed by those who had crossed the sea from mainland China. All of these were the products of their time.

"Provincial demarcation is a by-product of these kinds of relationships based on blood-lineage and geographical links," points out Ben Wan.

Taiwanese is the mother-tongue of our business:

President Enterprise is a bastion of the Tainan clique, and makes no attempt to hide the "native" coloring of its business. Even at its office in the capital, Taipei, you can get a feeling of its grassroots nature from the steady stream of Tainan-Taiwanese spoken.

"President has no mainlanders at management level at present," says Yang Yu-pao, assistant manager of President's public relations department. This is because, in the early years of the company, a personnel policy preferential to local people was stipulated. Down to today, the company's senior managers are still all people from Tainan who have risen through the ranks.

"In the early period, meetings from top to bottom were all conducted in Taiwanese, because the conveners used Taiwanese to preside," says Yang Yu-pao.

Out of Taiwan's 100 leading companies, 77 percent are led by Taiwanese. The older generation of leaders all grew up with an education in their mother tongue and in Japanese. Speaking Mandarin would often pose communication problems, so the style of using Taiwanese at management level took shape. In addition, with most employees originating from Taiwan, the style at the top was followed at lower levels. It was thus that the mother-tongue culture of businesses was produced.

Divided by demands of the tongue?

These kinds of natural repercussions of the culture of the mother tongue have, however, given rise to suspicions in outside circles of a provincial bar among business personnel. Originating from Anhui, Chao Chi-cheng, a graduate of the Graduate School of Agricultural Economics at National Taiwan University, now teaching at the Ming Chuan Colege of Management, thinks that the tendency for linguistic nativization in business is not something that should be taken for granted. Three years ago, he went to apply for a job at President, but because he insisted on using Mandarin in his interview with the manager, the situation was rather embarrassing and he was not accepted for the job. "Every place has its dialect, but in a public situation it is best to use Mandarin," he says.

Ku Cheng-tung, the first "mainland lad" to break into the native Taiwanese bastion of the Ho Cheng Group (HCG), thinks that the language policies of businesses are at times actually due to the demands of practicality and are not necessarily a kind of chauvinism. "Taking HCG as an example, the people we come into contact with are either common plumbers or architects and business people. On the whole, they are of Taiwanese origin. Taiwanese is also used an awful lot in administration."

Shih Ming-shy, assistant manager in charge of personnel at President, also points out that business operations are naturally market led. With more than nine-tenths of the businessmen who come to them being of Taiwanese origin, the language requirement made by President is reasonable. But the requirements of language do certainly not divide people by province: if somebody from another province can communicate in Taiwanese, then they can become part of President without any problem. If a Taiwanese can speak Taiwanese, but not too fluently, his usefulness could also be discounted.

In recent years, given the ever-widening development of President's operations, local personnel have not been able to supply all the company's needs. Recruitment must now be made from all areas, and young people with origins going back to mainland provinces have begun to enter President, resulting in a steady loosening of the Tainan-dominated Taiwanese circle.

Early experience:

If you want to establish a good network between people in the market, then language is the most important tool for communication. In early years, Taiwanese and mainlanders, due to language and kinship factors, went along different tracks. This created a difference between the economic activities of the two sides.

When Lin Chung-cheng, an Academia Sinica researcher in social sciences, examined the early economic differences between native Taiwanese and mainlanders, he discovered that native businesses tended to take root among the general public and situate themselves in downstream manufacturing, while mainlander businesses were mostly developing upstream supply industries which could avoid the market weakness of insufficient human resources.

Looking back at the experience of the early years of Taiwan's development, when the government came to Taiwan in 1949 it brought along some important businesses from the coastal cities. From Shanghai came ten large textile factories, a large amount of finance, equipment, technology and personnel, which was just right to make up for the shortcomings left after the withdrawal of the Japanese. Because at that time most of Taiwan's elite went into agriculture and medicine, the technicians who came over from mainland China formed them selves into a body which became the main force of Taiwan's early industrial and commercial development. Many mainlander businesses at that time were thus created on a base of shared experiences, technology, and the strong sentiments of kinship away from home.

Yulon Motor Company numbers among one of the members of the Zhejiang/Jiangsu clique. Although today there is no visible mainlander coloring at the management and leadership levels, looking back to the early years, the then general director of Yulon, C.H. Lee, admits that there was such a time.

In 1953, Yulon wanted to start up a machine manufacturing company. Because at that time the only people in Taiwanese society with technical expertise were military personnel, the company went to the air force to recruit workers. "Of course, these people were all from mainland China." In the early years, Yulon just could not avoid having a heavy mainlander coloring, but in later days, following the recruitment by examination of trained personnel, native Taiwanese gradually came into the company. By the 1970s, the provincial coloring had faded.

Is it hard to solve the provincial complex?

Of course, the creation of the provincial bar in business is not all down to natural conditions, such as blood-line, geographical origin and language. In part it has been built up deliberately. When the government came to Taiwan over 40 years ago, power was in the hands of those labelled as being from "outside the province." The main industrial and commercial businesses, and economic power, were also primarily "mainlander." This meant that chairmen, directors and other important leadership posts were largely held by mainlanders, so as to establish good ties between business and the central government.

Yet this kind of phenomenon, in the eyes of some Taiwanese, created an image of slyness and cunning. Right up to the present, a minority of older-generation heads of enterprises still have a wariness towards mainlanders that they cannot discard. Such is the case with Chinpao Shan's Tsao Ji-chang, who makes his complex very clear.

"Most mainlanders have a wily nature: great at talking, loving to argue but not liking hard work; they are very suitable for thinking up ideas and moving their mouths, but their sincerity is limited. They often put profit before right, and let the boss lose out." Tsao Ji-chang says that this view comes from "40 years of getting the short end of the stick."

Thus when Chinpao Shan put out its advertisement last year, looking for new people to develop its related enterprises, the notice frankly stated "Southern Taiwanese preferred." Tsao Ji-chang's view is that, "The northerners have been more seriously 'polluted' by mainlander ways, the central and southern Taiwanese have kept more of their original Taiwanese purity, ability to suffer and work hard, and their character of loyalty and sincerity." Tsao Ji-chang stubbornly persists in his preference of always using Taiwanese.

Systems replace personal control:

In medium and large enterprises, figures such as Tsao Ji-chang, who proudly advocate their provincial preferences, have gradually faded out over 40 years of provincial integration. However, among medium and small businesses, because personal relationships are close, the preferences of bosses are often the deciding factor in the choice of personnel. With Taiwan's medium and small enterprises absorbing 70 percent of the work force, there are many small, exclusive clan groupings.

"In medium and small businesses, the relationship between the boss and the workers is not just that of employer-employee, but is also one of private relationships between different generations and kinship sentiments. Selection of staff often takes place according to individual preferences." Lin Chung-cheng points out that, in the early years, Taiwan's large businesses were also like this, with the Power centers of companies taking on a particular coloring, which was very natural.

But this kind of situation in a large company is naturally reduced when it is broken down into specialist departments. "It is certainly not that the phenomenon is not there, but it is shrunken and concentrated in a limited circle at leadership level." Lin Chung-cheng thinks that among the general workers, it is very hard to maintain any kind of restriction.

Formosa Plastics is a typical example. In the past, Formosa Plastics always insisted on having a Taiwanese coloring. When the business expanded and selection came to rely purely on examination, there was a gradual move away from the provincial bar. When the problem arose last year over what time work would start on the sixth naphtha cracker and the media were knocking at the door every day, this company with its heavily colored native image, left its public relations to a mainlander. Mainlander spokesman Jack Jen soon became the unintended topic of the day. The same thing also happened with the changes undergone by other large companies. Due to the systematization of operations, personal control rapidly decreased and enterprises ceaselessly absorbed large and varied numbers of the new generation.

Annie Wang, who is currently working in Formosa Plastics' South Asia Office, is second generation "pure Zhejiang." On graduation she knew that if she wanted to get a job then she should never look to a small company, but must get into a large enterprise. Only then would she be able to avoid problems of provinciality and language. So she chose Formosa Plastics. Although she can often hear Taiwanese being spoken, with the increasing "Mandarinization" of the company, she has no problem fitting in.

A bullish spirit:

Wang Ming-ko, who is working on a doctorate in the East Asian department of Harvard University, describes Taiwan's society as being like a special breed of bull that is a cross between a common ox and a yak. With the placidity of the ox and the strength of the yak, it can both acclimatize to the high plateau and the low valleys: it is Tibet's most prized kind of bovine. In Taiwan, the earlier mixture of native Taiwanese with mainland Chinese in blood, culture and language, came to produce a new generation with the advantages of both. It is only right that this "bullish spirit" should be used to describe the mix of people there.

Koo Chen-fu, a leading figure in Taiwan's business circles and chairman of the Taiwan Cement Corporation, is representative of the bullish generation. A native of Taiwan, he does not have any parochial coloring about him. His broad and magnanimous personal style has always been respected by native Taiwanese and mainlanders alike. Concerning the phenomenon of the provincial bar in business, he expresses his opinions with a customary breadth of vision: "Perhaps it is because the first generation of entrepreneurs did not have the benefit of a wide education that it is comparatively easy for them to use their individual experiences or subjective preferences as standards by which to select personnel." Such standards could at times be those of provincial identity, sometimes religious belief. But through the process of intermarriage, education and language assimilation, ideas gradually change. At the same time, the views of the second business generation, with their higher and more extensive education, cannot continue to preserve the standards of the older generation.

"Now is the age of using people according to ability, especially now that the government's economic policy is moving towards liberalization and internationalization. Hopefully, domestic enterprises can compete in their industries internationally. They should even absorb personnel from overseas. So can there still be talk of the provincial bar?" asks Koo Chen-fu.

Capital-labor conflicts supplant the provincial problem:

In the Hsinchu Industrial Park, a group of young engineers who have returned from studying in the United States rack their brains before a computer monitor. They are debugging a massive and complicated program.

From their appearance it is impossible to tell whether they are native Taiwanese or descended from mainlanders. International and professional coloring has already concealed their native characteristics. Following the 1970s, many native Taiwanese and second-generation mainlanders, sharing the same expertise and ideals, have come to work together. Information about the provincial identities of managers from Taiwan's leading 100 companies shows that companies which mix people who have different provincial identities in their leadership levels are slowly on the increase: from six percent in 1978, increasing to 12 percent in 1991. Although this cannot be considered to be a rapid increase, it can already testify to the tendency towards integration.

"Before I had been to mainland China, I thought that Taiwan seemed to have a problem of provincialism. But now that I have been to the mainland a few times, I do not talk about the provincial problem anymore. It seems that when native Taiwanese and those who have come to Taiwan from other provinces go to the mainland, they all have the same name--Taiwan compatriots," points out Allen Hsu, Yulon's executive vice president.

Ben Wan thinks that entrepreneurs are mainly practical, foresighted and concerned with efficiency, costs and profits. When many businesses move towards internationalization, they urgently want to integrate into local areas but cannot do it. Going to Guangdong and Hong Kong, they all want to study Cantonese; going to Beijing they want to study the Beijing dialect, so as to facilitate management. In this kind of situation, businesses cannot go back down the road of imposing restrictions on their own people.

"The problem of provincial identity in businesses? I think that now it has already been supplanted by capital-labor conflicts," is the observation of the vice editor-in-chief of Strategic Productivity Monthly. Susan Tsai. Perhaps this is really business's timely conclusion to this old issue.

[Picture Caption]

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Although some large businesses have been labelled as provincial, there is still no way to stop the determination of professionals from outside knocking at the door to get in. (drawing by Tsai Chih-pen)

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The government brought many technicians and businessmen along when it moved to Taiwan, forming a major power behind early industrial and commercial development .(photo courtesy of Yulon Motor Co., Ltd.)

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Foreign businesses come in and domestic ones go overseas. As the business network gets daily more internationalized, the provincial barrier gradually becomes more blurred.

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Native Taiwanese businesses place great emphasis on customary beliefs. It is never forgotten to erect an altar for the Ghost Festival and pay respects to the good brothers of the netherworld.

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The February 28 Incident, remembered in this procession, was instrumental in creating provincial barriers. But efforts by concerned people and government sincerity have now brought consensus on ethnic integration.(photo by Diago Chiu)

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In recent years the property business has been booming with intense competition. It seems that if you want to make sales then you had better be"bilingual", speaking both Mandarin and Taiwanese.

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When most people start up in business they rely on kith and kin for support and struggle along together to conquer the world.

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Having breached the provincial bar, professional ability and relations hips with colleagues have become key factors in the selection of personnel.

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