By Hany Abou-El-Fotouh
Today corporate governance principles are considered a key element to the success of any organization and a prescription for improving performance. Simply it is the name of the game for companies that are directed by a board of directors in order to safeguard the interest of shareholders as well as other stakeholders.
There are several definitions for corporate governance. However, the most appropriate definition which is more relevant to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) describes corporate governance as "a set of rules, regulations and structures which aim to achieve optimum performance by implementing appropriate effective methods in order to achieve the corporate objectives". In other words, corporate governance refers to internal disciplines or systems which govern the relationships among 'key players' or entities that are instrumental in the performance of the organization. Moreover, it supports the organization's sustainability on the long term and establishes responsibility and accountability.
The guidelines of corporate governance aim to achieve greater transparency, fairness and hold executive management of the organization accountable to shareholders. In doing so, corporate governance plays a pivotal role in protecting shareholders and, in the meantime, duly consider the interest of the organization at large without prejudice to employees' rights. Whilst executive management should have reasonable level of power to run the business, corporate governance ensures that such powers are set to practical dimensions in order to minimize misuse of authority to serve objectives not necessarily in the best interest of the shareholders. Therefore, it provides a framework for maximizing profits , promoting investment opportunities and eventually creating more jobs.
In general, corporate governance highlights two major principles:
A.Oversight and control over the executive management's performance and strategic directions B.Accountability of the executive management to the shareholders
For that reason the principles of corporate governance apply on those who assume the ultimate responsibility for success or failure of the organization. On the other hand, it is imperative to understand that the proper implementation of good corporate governance does not necessarily guarantee success of the organization. Meanwhile, a bad corporate governance practice is certainly a common syndrome causing failure in many organizations.
It is interesting to know that a recent survey revealed that more than 48% of investors are willing to pay additional premium over stock prices for companies known to implement sound corporate governance practices as opposed to other companies which may have same level of profitability but characterized with inefficient management or a record of poor governance practices.
The misconception about SME's stems its roots from the size and contribution of this segment to the economy. The reality is today SMEs may appear small in size but likely many of them have potentials to grow and become big entities in future. Sadly, this prophecy still not well realized and as a result, implementation of good corporate governance practices continues to be ignored. SEMs in Egypt form large segment of business activities. Generally, they take the form of private companies owned by small number of shareholders. Often have less than 100 employees. Such companies are usually family-owned run by family members where the authorities and powers are generally held by an individual normally the major shareholder. For that reason the owners commonly consider themselves as running their personal properties.
Perhaps the question that strikes the mind of business owners and directors of small and medium size companies as well as the executive management team " why should we opt to choose to introduce new systems and internal rules...