A/E/P, Environmental Firms Bucking Open-Book-Management Trend

Heralded by industry leaders and management experts as an important trend, open-book management—the sharing of summary financial data with all members of a staff—is not being practiced by a majority of architecture, engineering, and planning (A/E/P) and environmental firms, a recent survey reveals.

According to business-management-services provider ZweigWhite’s 2011 Financial Performance Survey, only 21 percent of A/E/P and environmental firms share full financial information with all firm members.

In 2002, 20 percent of survey respondents practiced open-book management. That percentage reached 25 percent in 2005, but then decreased, until a sudden jump to 26 percent in 2010.

Seventy-two percent of respondents cited presidents, chief executive officers (CEOs), and managing partners as firm members most likely to see financial information. Fifty-eight percent said vice presidents and principals see their firm’s financial information.

“This data blows me away,” Mark C. Zweig, founder and CEO of ZweigWhite, said. “I cannot understand why any firm owner would not want their employees to understand the basic economics of their business. Sharing the information is how people learn. Plus, not sharing it works against trust between management and employees. No one in business can afford to do anything that hurts morale, especially if it is within their control.”

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