Corporate governance is "the system by which companies are directed and controlled". It involves regulatory and market mechanisms, and the roles and relationships between a company’s management, its board, its shareholders and other stakeholders, and the goals for which the corporation is governed. 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 impact on the way a company is controlled. An important theme of corporate governance is the nature and extent of accountability of people in the business.
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).
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 (e.g., Parmalat in Italy).
Read more about Corporate Governance: Principles of Corporate Governance, Corporate Governance Models Around The World, Regulation, Parties To Corporate Governance, Mechanisms and Controls, Systemic Problems of Corporate Governance, Executive Remuneration/compensation
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