Objectivity, Proximity and Adaptability in Corporate Governance
30 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2000
Date Written: March 2000
Countries appear to differ considerably in the basic orientations of their corporate governance structures. We postulate the trade-off between objectivity and proximity as fundamental to the corporate governance debate. We stress the value of objectivity that comes with distance (e.g. the market oriented U.S. system), and the value of better information that comes with proximity (e.g. the more intrusive Continental European model). Our key result is that the optimal distance between management and monitor (board or shareholders) has a bang-bang solution: either one should capitalize on the better information that comes with proximity or one should seek to benefit optimally from the objectivity that comes with distance. We show that this result points at an important link between the optimal corporate governance arrangement and industry structure. In this context, we also discuss the ways in which investors have "contracted around" the flaws in their own corporate governance systems, pointing at the adaptability of different arrangements.
JEL Classification: G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation