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Corporate Governance


Lehmann, Erik E.

Corporate Governance Working Paper No. 01-18, 2018-11-19

Abstract:

Corporate governance is a recent concept that encompasses the costs caused by managerial misbehavior. Corporate governance is concerned with how organizations in general, and corporations in particular, produce value and how that value is distributed among the members of the corporation, its stakeholders.  The interrelation of value production and value distribution links the ubiquitous technological aspect (the production of value) with the moral and ethical dimension (the distribution of value). Corporate governance is concerned with this link in general, but more specifically with the moral and ethical dimensions of distributing the generated value among the stakeholders. Value in firms is created by firm-specific investments, and the motivation and coordination of value enhancing activities and investment is protected by the power concentrated at the pyramidal top of the organization. In modern companies, it is the CEO and the top management deciding how to create value and how to distribute it among the relevant stakeholders. Due to asymmetric information and the imperfect nature of markets and contracts, adverse selection and moral hazard problems occur, where delegated (selected) managers could act in their own interest at the costs of other relevant stakeholders.

Corporate governance is a two-tailed concept. The first aspect is about identifying the (most) relevant stakeholder(s), separating theory and practice into two different and conflicting streams: the stakeholder value approach and the shareholder value approach. The second aspect of the concept is about providing and analyzing different mechanisms, reducing the costs induced by moral hazard and adverse selection effects, and to balance out the motivation and coordination problems of the relevant stakeholders. Corporate governance is an interdisciplinary concept encompassing academic fields like finance, economics, accounting, law, taxation and psychology, among others.

Like countries differ according to their institutions (i.e. legal and political systems, norms, and rules), firms differ according to their size, age, dominant shareholders or industries. Thus concepts in corporate governance differ along these dimensions as well. And while the underlying characteristics vary in time, continuously or as an exogenous shock, concepts in corporate governance are dynamic and static, offering a challenging field of interest for academics, policy makers and firm managers. 

 

About the Author:  Erik E. Lehmann, Chair of Management and Organization, University of Augsburg, GBM Augsburg and CCSE Bergamo/Augsburg. 

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