About Corporate Governance
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Corporate governance refers to the system by which corporations are directed and controlled. The governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation (such as the board of directors, managers, shareholders, creditors, auditors, regulators, and other stakeholders) and specifies the rules and procedures for making decisions in corporate affairs. Governance provides the structure through which corporations set and pursue their objectives, while reflecting the context of the social, regulatory and market environment. Governance is a mechanism for monitoring the actions, policies and decisions of corporations. Governance involves the alignment of interests among the stakeholders.

There has been renewed interest in the corporate governance practices of modern corporations, particularly in relation to accountability, since the high-profile collapses of a number of large corporations during 2001–2002, most of which involved accounting fraud. Corporate scandals of various forms have maintained public and political interest in the regulation of corporate governance. In the U.S., these include Enron Corporation and MCI Inc. (formerly WorldCom). Their demise is associated with the U.S. federal government passing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, intending to restore public confidence in corporate governance. Comparable failures in Australia (HIH, One.Tel) are associated with the eventual passage of the CLERP 9 reforms. Similar corporate failures in other countries stimulated increased regulatory interest

Other Definition

Corporate governance has also been defined as "a system of law and sound approaches by which corporations are directed and controlled focusing on the internal and external corporate structures with the intention of monitoring the actions of management and directors and thereby mitigating agency risks which may stem from the misdeeds of corporate officers."

In contemporary business corporations, the main external stakeholder groups are shareholders, debtholders, trade creditors, suppliers, customers and communities affected by the corporation's activities. Internal stakeholders are the board of directors, executives, and other employees.

Much of the contemporary interest in corporate governance is concerned with mitigation of the conflicts of interests between stakeholders. Ways of mitigating or preventing these conflicts of interests include the processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions which have an impact on the way a company is controlled. An important theme of governance is the nature and extent of corporate accountability.

A related but separate thread of discussions focuses on the impact of a corporate governance system on economic efficiency, with a strong emphasis on shareholders' welfare. In large firms where there is a separation of ownership and management and no controlling shareholder, the principal–agent issue arises between upper-management (the "agent") which may have very different interests, and by definition considerably more information, than shareholders (the "principals"). The danger arises that rather than overseeing management on behalf of shareholders, the board of directors may become insulated from shareholders and beholden to management. This aspect is particularly present in contemporary public debates and developments in regulatory policy.(see regulation and policy regulation).

Economic analysis has resulted in a literature on the subject. One source defines corporate governance as "the set of conditions that shapes the ex post bargaining over the quasi-rents generated by a firm." The firm itself is modelled as a governance structure acting through the mechanisms of contract. Here corporate governance may include its relation to corporate finance.

Date: 2013-08-01
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