Corporate governance broadly refers to the mechanisms, processes and relations by which corporations are controlled and directed. Governance structures identify 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 includes the rules and procedures for making decisions in corporate affairs. Corporate governance includes the processes through which corporations' objectives are set and pursued in the context of the social, regulatory and market environment. Governance mechanisms include monitoring the actions, policies and decisions of corporations and their agents. Corporate governance practices are affected by attempts to align the interests of 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; and then again after the recent financial crisis in 2008. Corporate scandals of various forms have maintained public and political interest in the regulation of corporate governance. In the U.S., these include Enron and MCI Inc. (formerly WorldCom).
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, debt holders, trade creditors, suppliers, customers and communities affected by the corporation's activities. Internal stakeholders are the board of directors, executives, and other employees.
Principles of corporate governance
Contemporary discussions of corporate governance tend to refer to principles raised in three documents released since 1990: The Cadbury Report (UK, 1992), the Principles of Corporate Governance (OECD, 1998 and 2004), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (US, 2002). The Cadbury and OECD reports present general principles around which businesses are expected to operate to assure proper governance. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, informally referred to as Sarbox or Sox, is an attempt by the federal government in the United States to legislate several of the principles recommended in the Cadbury and OECD reports. Rights and equitable treatment of shareholders: Organizations should respect the rights of shareholders and help shareholders to exercise those rights. They can help shareholders exercise their rights by openly and effectively communicating information and by encouraging shareholders to participate in general meetings. Interests of other stakeholders: Organizations should recognize that they have legal, contractual, social, and market driven obligations to non-shareholder stakeholders, including employees, investors, creditors, suppliers, local communities, customers, and policy makers. Role and responsibilities of the board: The board needs sufficient relevant skills and understanding to review and challenge management performance. It also needs adequate size and appropriate levels of independence and commitment. Integrity and ethical behavior: Integrity should be a fundamental requirement in choosing corporate officers and board members. Organizations should develop a code of conduct for their directors and executives that promotes ethical and responsible decision making. Disclosure and transparency: Organizations should clarify and make publicly known the roles and responsibilities of board and management to provide stakeholders with a level of accountability. They should also implement...
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