Comparative Corporate Governance
Haxhi, I. 2015. Comparative Corporate Governance, In Comparative International Management (2nd Eds.) A. Sorge, N. Noorderhaven, and C. Koen. London: Routledge. p. 221-266.
66 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2018
Date Written: June 22, 2015
The question how the governance of enterprises, including the governance of capital markets, should be arranged is as old as the market economy and capitalism itself. Reforms have been stimulated by recently corporate scandals that imposed a critical discussion on the way public corporations are directed and controlled. The literature on corporate governance (CG) originated in the US and the UK, and was initially concerned with a fairly narrow set of issues such as how shareholders can monitor and motivate management to act in their interests. This literature distinguishes between two dichotomous CG models. First, the shareholder-oriented model, which is characterized by strong shareholder rights, single powerful CEO and protection of minority shareholders, prevails mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries. Second, the stakeholder-oriented model, which is characterized by weaker shareholder rights, consensus leadership, and concentrated ownership, prevails in most of the European continent and Japan. For a number of reasons, comparative CG and convergence debates often take place within the contours of the cultural–institutional or societal approach used in this book. Since institutionalists and the societal approach stresses the embeddedness of national institutions and ‘complementarities’ between institutions, alternative responses to internationalizing capital markets, other than convergence, appear possible. Companies may respond very differently to similar sorts of pressure, and distinct sets of ‘best practice’ contingent on the national context may emerge. The current chapter applies this approach by examining the interaction between CG aspects in large, small and medium-sized firms and national institutions in different countries, in the context of internationalizing capital markets. By adopting an institutional approach, the first section describes the major CG features influencing post-war company decision-making in advanced economies. The in-depth explanation of the two main models is followed by an analysis of the Japanese CG model, which is argued to be similar to the Rhineland model. The second section explores the continental European models, which are variants of the two main models. The analysis shows that variations among the advanced and transition economies in these CG features stem from differences in key societal institutions, such as governmental regulation, the character of the financial system, corporate law, and cultural values. In the third section, we offer a brief overview of the models of CG in BRIC countries and more specifically, we discuss in the form of case studies, CG in Russia and China. The fourth section deals with the worldwide diffusion of CG codes, which are instruments of self-regulation, defining best practices with respect to boards, management, supervision, disclosure and auditing. We discuss the main drivers of their diffusion and characteristics across countries, as well as the possible convergence of CG best practices. Finally, the closing case, dealing with the Ahold scandal, should be seen in the light of the link between CG and CSR. The chapter concludes with the major strengths and weaknesses, as well as future directions of change in both CG models.
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