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Must redeem within 90 days. See full terms and conditions and this month's choices. Tell us what you like, so we can send you books you'll love. Indeed, in spite of the strong resistance to change and the support for the status quo , which is probably as strong now as it was ten years ago, there is a very good chance that some very revolutionary changes in governance will begin to take place in the first decade of this century. As we suggest in this article, it will happen for three reasons: i the tremendous fall-out from recent failures in corporate governance in the United States; ii recognition that the reforms which were touted as being so significant in the s were relatively innocuous; and iii most importantly, by far, path-breaking new research on the factors impacting on board decision-making.
In the early years of the twenty-first century corporate malfeasance and individual scandals have rocked the capital markets, led to the loss of fortunes by the rich and bankrupted the poor, and destroyed the confidence and faith of investors in many of the institutions that are fundamental to making the capitalistic market system work. During a two-month period May-June of , the headlines of major stories in the major business magazines tell the story.
A sampling of those headlines is below. In spite of sweeping generalizations made by the popular press concerning the causes of these and other past corporate failures, relatively little appears to be known about why or how several of these failures occurred, including how and why key decisions were made, or not made, and the manner in which boards acted and why they acted the way they did.
Of course, there may very well be multiple, interdependent causes for a given corporate failure, including the irrationality of the markets, the philosophy of maximizing short-term shareholder value and personal greed. But given that a key task of a board of directors is the independent oversight of management and corporate stewardship, one may conclude that at least some of these corporate failures may have been caused by the inability of boards to operate effectively, i. Indeed, in the aftermath of the failures and scandals associated with many companies, it has been commonplace for the media to attribute many corporate failures to poor corporate governance practices whatever this may mean.
It is a particularly relevant one in instances when a company fails, even though the board of directors had a high profile or seemingly qualified directors sitting on it, which in more than a few instances was the case. Jaedicke, was a retired accounting professor and past Dean at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Bush, delivered a major speech — a speech billed as important as a State of the Union address — on corporate responsibility. The Act was signed by the President and enacted into law on July 30, Will this legislation be effective?
Might the Americans learn from the Canadian experience over the last decade? Unfortunately, given what we know about corporate governance, it is at best debatable that these regulations, as they currently stand, other than increasing the costs of operations of governments and corporations, will do much to improve corporate governance in America.
Of necessity, because of lack of information, researchers, regulators and nomination committees have tended to view board effectiveness from the vantage point of the above three dimensions. In other words, boards are seen from the perspective of having a separate chair, a majority of outside directors, and an optimal size e.
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That the exchanges should have such guidelines is really quite strange because there is absolutely no evidence linking board structure — and specifically, board as well as director independence — to the financial success of firms. Studies have, however, found a negative effect.
Yet, paradoxically, in spite of the evidence from these studies that independence is not a major factor in corporate performance see Table 2 on next page , regulators in the United Kingdom, Australia, United States and Canada continue to focus upon it in their regulatory efforts. Most of the types of reforms and changes that regulatory agencies have enacted, and which corporate governance scholars have called for in the past, have had to do with board structure, i.
And yet, as Table 2 indicates, the evidence from the research, slim as it is, indicates that these things really make no difference in general board performance.
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And no one has been able to find a positive relationship between good corporate governance, as currently defined, and corporate financial performance. In other words, the directors interviewed believe that better boards make for better companies. Yet researchers, at least with respect to board structure, have not been able to prove this.
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Regulations regarding board structure, therefore, may not make any difference, as Don Thain originally suggested as long ago as In other words, if the TSX guidelines work, corporations that comply with them should have an effective board and those that do not, should have an ineffective board. This appears not to be the case, currently, based on i recent empirical evidence on board structure and ii the findings on which this article is based. You can fit all of the guidelines but have a terrible board. Interestingly, the original TSE committee on governance reconvened in and, on July 10, it stated in a news release:.
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There is a concern, however, that the response of a number of corporations may have been more structural and more procedural than substantive. If directors are overwhelmingly of the view that better boards make for better companies, it seems entirely reasonable, and quite plausible, that the fact that quantitative studies have been unable to identify a relationship between corporate governance and corporate financial performance does not mean that a relationship does not exist between the two. What the disconnects between what directors think, what researchers can prove, and what regulators regulate, probably mean that the proper type of research on corporate governance has not been done, or, it has been done badly.
More significantly, it means that regulators, chief executive officers and directors, when they are searching for ways and means of improving corporate governance, are functioning in a knowledge vacuum; that is, they are making regulations and decisions without any real knowledge about what is going on in boards of directors or, at worst, on the basis of an incorrect understanding of the major factors impacting on corporate governance. Remarkably, in spite of all the commissions and reports, there is not much more known now about how boards actually operate — what makes some effective and others not — than there was a half century ago.
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