A New Way to Govern: Because 'World Best Practices' are the Problem Not the Solution

Chartered Secretaries Australia 2nd Annual Corporate Governance Symposium

9 Pages Posted: 4 May 2003

See all articles by Shann Turnbull

Shann Turnbull

International Institute for Self-Governance; Sustainable Money Working Group; New Garden City Alliance

Date Written: March 4, 2003


This paper was presented to generate debate about proposals developed by a 'Corporate Governance Council' set up by the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) to advise on new guidelines. The paper identifies the invalidity of the assumptions implicit in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the US and the recommendations of the Higgs report in the UK into the role of non-executive directors. The paper describes how these assumptions lack validity in regards to the ability of non-executives directors, who meet the highest standards of independence, being able to protect themselves, the company, shareholders, or other stakeholders. Likewise, the invalidity of the assumption that an auditor can be independent when paid by those they audit. Another fundamental flaw in unitary governance is that the information on which directors rely for monitoring and evaluating the business and its management is provided by management. This widespread arrangement is inconsistent with directors performing their fiduciary role with due diligence and vigilance. A contributing factor to the lack of shareholder engagement to control boards is explained by the unethical but legal practice of a director controlling the process of a board being made accountable by chairing shareholder meetings. Lack of shareholder regulation in Australia also arises from corporations having the power to veto pension fund management mandates and a bank based oligarchy of corporate fund management and influence. While Australia leads the world with its requirement that corporations continuously disclose price sensitive information, the identity of share traders and shareholders, that can also be price sensitive information, is not required to be disclosed at the time of a trade, and this protect and so facilitates insider trading. Ways of ameliorating all these problems are suggested in the paper based on the analysis and recommendations presented in A New Way to Govern: Organisations and Society after Enron archived at http://ssrn.com/abstract=319867

Keywords: conflicts, corporate governance, democracy, directors, disclosure, oligarchy, Plutocracy

JEL Classification: G38, K20, L22, L50

Suggested Citation

Turnbull, Shann, A New Way to Govern: Because 'World Best Practices' are the Problem Not the Solution (March 4, 2003). Chartered Secretaries Australia 2nd Annual Corporate Governance Symposium, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=386740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.386740

Shann Turnbull (Contact Author)

International Institute for Self-Governance ( email )

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