Corporate governance (CG) is one of the most talked about topics in business, indeed in society, today. Google search revealed 513 news citations during a single week in June 2006. Most academics, business professionals, and lay observers would agree that CG is defined as the general set of customs, regulations, habits, and laws that determine to what end a firm should be run. Much more fraught, however, is the question: “what defines good corporate governance?”
This Closer Look takes a broad view of the topic, with the goal of addressing the following questions:
First of all we have to understand the meaning of CG.
Corporate governance is the set of processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions affecting the way a corporation (or company) is directed, administered or controlled. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the many stakeholders involved and the goals for which the corporation is governed. The principal stakeholders are the shareholders, management, and the board of directors. Other stakeholders include employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, regulators, and the community at large.
Corporate governance is a multi-faceted subject. An important theme of corporate governance is to ensure the accountability of certain individuals in an organization through mechanisms that try to reduce or eliminate the principal-agent problem. A related but separate thread of discussions focuses on the impact of a corporate governance system in economic efficiency, with a strong emphasis on shareholders’ welfare. There are yet other aspects to the corporate governance subject, such as the stakeholder view and the corporate governance models around the world.
Key elements of good corporate governance principles include honesty, trust and integrity, openness, performance orientation, responsibility and accountability, mutual respect, and commitment to the organization.
Of importance is how directors and management develop a model of governance that aligns the values of the corporate participants and then evaluate this model periodically for its effectiveness. In particular, senior executives should conduct themselves honestly and ethically, especially concerning actual or apparent conflicts of interest, and disclosure in financial reports.
Corporate governance mechanisms and controls are designed to reduce the inefficiencies that arise from moral hazard and adverse selection. For example, to monitor managers’ behavior, an independent third party (the external auditor) attests the accuracy of information provided by management to investors. An ideal control system should regulate both motivation and ability.
Internal corporate governance controls
Internal corporate governance controls monitor activities and then take corrective action to accomplish organisational goals. Examples include:
External corporate governance controls
External corporate governance controls encompass the controls external stakeholders exercise over the organisation. Examples include: