Miths of corporate governance


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Miths of corporate governance

  1. 1. Myths of Corporate Governance Mateus Tavares da Silva Cozer Centro Universitário da FEI, Brazil. E-mail: 14/7/2011AbstractGlobalization is still very partial and incomplete. Corporate governance was one of themost vibrant fields in management research in the last ten years. It has a vast literature oncorporate finance, for example the work of the author Michael Jensen, a Harvard scholar.Otherwise the researcher is worried with the question of accountability in Brazil. Theinsightful and provocative article by Stephen Vargo and Robert Lusch argues that, becausemarketing has historically been informed by static-equilibrium economics, it has had agoods-centered dominant logic. The debates about governance and ethics have sprung fromcorporate failure, not from corporate success. The corporate sector has been plagued byhuge scandals relating to excessive manager compensation and fraudulent bookkeeping.Briefly, the academic focus is shifting from the thing being exchanged to one on theprocess of exchange. Gutenberg age is dead. Corporate governance is not about advertising.Corporate governance is not about channels. Corporate governance is not about networks.Corporate governance is not about quality. In that way, the focus of this work is to analyzethe competitive process based on digital networks. On the methodological point of view, aliterature review is done in the field of corporate governance, our work dual-core is basedon new institutional economics and transaction-cost approach, and our unit of analysis isthe binomial word-transaction. This paper is an essay.Keywords: Corporate Governance, Marketing, Strategic Management; Accountability;Transaction Cost; Digital Media. 1
  2. 2. 1. 2001: a space odysseyThe beginning of the 21st century has been seeing the mix of three long range trends in theworld of business: the shift in an economy of goods to services, the quick expansion ofelectronic networks, and the measure of results which interconnects economic, social andenvironmental questions (RUST, 2002; HODGES, GRAYSON, 2001; ZADEK, 2001;URBAN, 2004; HANSON, 1999; BELL, 1973; DE MASI, 1999; BENKLER, 2006;BEINHOCKER, 2006). The Gutenberg age is dead.“The fundamental question in the field of strategic management is how firms achieve andsustain competitive advantage” (TEECE, 2002). The shifting role of business in societydoes, however, have a complex relationship to the matter of law (COASE, 1988; DIXIT,2004). At the same time, it is equally clear that the matter of what constitutes appropriatelaw governing business behavior is within the scope of the field of corporate responsibility(WILLIAMSON, 1996). This paper has adopted the more general term ‘corporateresponsibility’ to cover the topic of why, when and how business can, should and doesconsciously address social, environmental and economic (including financial) dimensionsof its performance and impact (ZADEK, 2002).The revolution triggered by information and communication technologies (ICT) has had asignificant impact on the economy, both at global and national levels, on the role ofgovernments and on the way people live and work (BROUSSEAU, 2007; ELSTER, 2007;FRANSMAN, 2007; NEWMAN, BARABASI and WATTS, 2006; RUST et alii, 2004;URBAN, 2004; BARABASI, 2003; KOBRIN, 2003; PEREZ, 2002; GOLDBERG, 2001;HODGES and GRAYSON, 2001; DE Masi, 1999; HANSON, 1999; BELL, 1973). Onelens that captures this revolution is the network society, characterized by the concept of anindependent and dynamic net linking organizations and forces of the economic,technological, political, physical-natural and social-cultural environments (CASTELLS,1999; BENKLER, 2006; BEINHOCKER, 2007; HAX; MAJLUF, 1991).Pagano (2006) argues that capitalist societies emerged from feudal relations and, in mostcountries, like Italy, rules of dynastic succession moved from agrarian sectors to theownership and control of large firms. Brazil is not a Banana Republic. The BNDES is not asmall bank. Feudal relations controls violence in the absence of institutions outside of thecity of São Paulo. We have many law merchants in Brazil. The history of Brazil could betold on the perspective of some lawyers like Janio Quadros, Rodrigues Alves, and theBurschenschaft.Governance does not matter in Limoeiro, Nova Odessa, Pouso Feliz, or Tacaratu. It is aboutfeudal relations in the 21st century. Otherwise, the new institutional economics is anattempt to incorporate a theory of institutions into economics. In the words of the NobelPrize winning Douglass North, “institutions are formed to reduce uncertainty in humanexchange”.September 11TH of 2001 witnessed violence in the land of the braves, New York City.Global governance is a myth. IMF is not a brothel house. The World Bank does not have 2
  3. 3. the power of Bradesco, Itaú or Safra. A transaction-cost approach is about the work ofWilliamson. The economic institutions of capitalism are firms, markets and relationalcontracts (WILLIAMSON, 1996). 2. The Spirit of Enron and the Capitalist EthicUsing the standard established by Coase (1937) and concerned with the problem of socialcost (COASE, 1960), the main reason why it is profitable to establish a firm would seem tobe that there is a cost of using the price mechanism. The most obvious cost of “organizing”production through the price mechanism is that of discovering what the relevant prices are.This cost may be reduced but it will not be eliminated by the emergence of specialists whowill sell this information. There are negotiations to be undertaken, contracts have to bedrawn up, inspections have to be made, arrangements have to be made to settle disputes,and so on. A firm, therefore, consists of the system of relationships, which comes intoexistence when the direction of resources is dependent on an entrepreneur. But it could bebad for practice.The words “Enron and WorldCom”, “Barings”, “Long-Term Capital Management” and“Société General”, “Washington Mutual”, “Bear Stearns”, “Lehman Brothers” , “MerrillLynch” , “AIG”, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac”, “Goldman Sachs”, “Sadia”, “Aracruz”,“Agrenco”, “Banco Panamericano” describe firms and the opportunist behavior. Using thestandard established by Williamson (1996), the mechanisms of governance used by thispaper over that secular debate are those from the new institutional economics (NORTH,1991). Institutions matter and are susceptible to analysis. Institutional economics isdifferent but not hostile to orthodoxy.The corporate sector has been plagued by huge scandals relating to excessive managercompensation. The education of a speculator is to trade in the cash market(NIEDERHOFFER, 1996). The draconian sanctions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are boundto lead to an explosion in costs without slowing the explosion in salaries (FREY, 2008).Agency theory strongly supports the conclusion that shareholder wealth maximizationshould be the definitive criterion for corporate governance in stock corporations. It is amyth (FREY, 2008). There are at two indications common to firms and BenedictineMonasteries, one of the Holy See umbrella organization, for corporate governance: thesurvival rate and the causes of liquidations. The art of strategy is changing the game. Acommitment is an unconditional strategic move (DIXIT, NALEBUFF, 2008). Actionsspeak louder than words. The spirit of Enron is an action that promotes favorable leakage ofinformation. The CEO of Enron prepared a face to meet the faces that he met. The world isa stage. The corporation is a theater. Is it a myth?One of the central defining features of modern society is the ubiquity of complexorganizations. The “Capitalist Ethic” is a term from the field of Wirtschaftssoziologie.Thomas Hobbes´s state of nature, Mark Granovetter´s embeddedness, and Neil Fligstein´ssocial skill are attempts to overcome Max Weber´s Wirtschaftssoziologie. At the heart ofthe literature on law and corporate governance is the question of whether some sets of rulespromote economic efficiency. Corporate governance is not about quality. It is a differentliterature. Fligstein argues that economists have been skeptical of the claim that political, 3
  4. 4. legal, or cultural factors affect efficiency. 3. Law and corporate governanceThe shifting role of business in society does have a complex relationship to the matter oflaw and economics. It is not a myth. It is a fact. The political system of a particular societyand the existence of the rule of law are important preconditions for understanding corporategovernance structures (FLIGSTEIN, 2005).The word “governance" is synonymous with the exercise of authority, direction, andcontrol. Zingales (1997) defines a governance system as the complex set of constraints thatshape the ex-post bargaining over the quasi-rents generated in the course of a relationship.Ownership matters because confers the right to make strategic decisions. There a vastnumber of codes of corporate governance in different countries like Germany, Japan andMexico. Institutional investors are a stakeholder who contributes to the wealth-creatingpotential of the firm. Although corporate governance can be defined in a variety of ways,generally it involves the mechanisms by which a business enterprise, organized in a limitedliability corporate form, is directed and controlled. One of the greatest differences incorporate governance practice relates to the role of employees in corporate governance, adifference that is usually embedded in law.The governance perspective has paved the road to make transaction cost theory a branch ofthe literature of law and economics. Under the governance economizing perspectiveWilliamson sees the firm as a governance structure. The term “governance” has explodedfrom obscurity to ubiquity in the last ten years. The field of economic governance studiesand compares the performance of different institutions under different conditions. It isdifficult to understand. And it could be bad for practice. Organizational structure and thedesign of incentives for managers and workers creating wealth from talent in the 21th-century organization is the centerpiece of corporate strategy.But free software projects do not rely either on markets or on managerial hierarchies toorganize production (BENKLER, 2002). It radically breaks from the concept of the publicdomain that underlies copyright law’s general background rule for nonproprietarymaterials. Lawrence Lessig’s Remix is not a myth. The ongoing battle over peer-to-peerfilesharing is an easy example. P2P production is another story. The Berkman Center forInternet and Society at Harvard Law School has made much of research. It is on the web.Governments could threaten, but behavior could not be controlled on cyberspace. Itrequires a broader account of “regulation,” through constitutions, statutes, and other legalcodes, and how the software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is. As Mitchellputs it, this code is cyberspace’s law. It is a myth. There is an endless debate about thedifference between data, information and knowledge (ALTER, 2002). Connecting People,Processes, and IT (information technology) for Business Results is a more important issuethan that controversy. Information includes codified and non-codified information used andcreated as participants perform their work. Either type of information may or may not becaptured on a computer. Essentially, anything that can be digitized – encoded as a stream ofbits- is information. Information is costly to produce but cheap to reproduce. Nobel prize-winning economist Herbert Simon spoke for us when he said, “a wealth of information 4
  5. 5. creates a poverty of attention.”Taboos, customs, traditions and constitutions are constraints in the complexity of society(NORTH, 1990). Finance, law and markets shape a corporate governance regime. Thehistorical evolution of the form of capitalism: family capitalism, managerial capitalism orpopular capitalism, are built around different sources of funding (CLARKE, 2007). Theseparation of ownership and control is a myth. Family capitalism is still a very importantform of governance around the world. The world is not flat. Bearle and Means are dead.Corporate law and labor law are relevant to the securities market. Anglo-Americaninstitutions are an exception. Banks plays cards through direct control or market control.Itaú, Bradesco and Safra are not naïve. Roberto Setubal (Mr. Bob) is the most powerfulCEO in Brazil.Germanic, Japanese, Latin, and Chinese are not alternative governance systems. We cantalk about codes outside the G8 world. Globalization is still very partial and incomplete.Rules and norms of corporate governance are important components of the framework forsuccessful market economies. Although corporate governance can be defined in a variety ofways, generally it involves the mechanisms by which a business enterprise, organized in alimited liability corporate form, is directed and controlled. 4. The rise and fall of corporate governanceLets say three more myths of corporate governance: • Principles of Corporate Governance in Greece are a myth. • Guidelines on Corporate Governance in Iceland are a myth. • Corporate Governance Code in Italy could be a myth.But we can enumerate some other corporate governance codes from Australia, Austria,Belgium, and Brazil in table 1.Australia- Principles of Good Corporate Governance and Best Practice Recommendations March 2003- Corporate Governance: A guide for fund managers and corporations 1 December 2002- Horwath 2002 Corporate Governance Report 2002- Corporate Governance: A Guide for Investment Managers and Corporations July 1999- Corporate Governance - Volume One: in Principle June 1997- Corporate Governance - Volume Two: In Practice June 1997- AIMA Guide & Statement of Recommended Practice (Corporate Governance Statements by Major ASX Listed Companies) June 1995- Bosch Report 1995 Austria- Austrian Code of Corporate Governance (as amended in January 2006) January 2006- Austrian Code of Corporate Governance (as amended on 22 February 2005) 22 February 2005- Austrian Code of Corporate Governance November 2002 Belgium- Code Buysse: Corporate governance for non-listed companies 21 September 2005 5
  6. 6. - Belgian Corporate Governance Code 9 December 2004- Draft Belgian Corporate Governance Code 18 June 2004- Directors Charter January 2000- Guidelines on Corporate Governance Reporting 18 November 1999- Corporate governance for Belgian listed companies (The Cardon Report) December 1998- Corporate Governance - Recommendations January 1998 Brazil- Code of Best Practice of Corporate Governance 30 March 2004- Recomendações sobre Governança Corporativa June 2002- Code of Best Practice of Corporate Governance 8 May 1999China- Provisional Code of Corporate Governance for Securities Companies 15 January 2004- The Code of Corporate Governance for Listed Companies in China 7 January 2001 France- Recommandations sur le gouvernement dentreprise March 2004- The Corporate Governance of Listed Corporations October 2003- Promoting Better Corporate Governance In Listed Companies 23 September 2002- Vienot II Report July 1999- Recommendations on Corporate Governance 9 June 1998- Vienot I Report June 1995 Germany- Amendment to the German Corporate Governance Code - The Cromme Code (June 2006) 12 June 2006- Amendment to the German Corporate Governance Code - The Cromme Code (June 2005) 2 June 2005- Corporate Governance Code for Asset Management Companies 27 April 2005- Amendment to the German Corporate Governance Code - The Cromme Code (May 2003) 21 May 2003- The German Corporate Governance Code (The Cromme Code) 26 February 2002- Baums Commission Report (Bericht der Regierungskommission Corporate Governance) 10 July 2001- German Code of Corporate Governance (GCCG) 6 June 2000- Corporate Governance Rules for German Quoted Companies January 2000- DSW Guidelines June 1998- Gesetz zur Kontrolle und Transparenz im Unternehmensbereich (KonTraG) 5 March 1998 Japan- Principles of Corporate Governance for Listed Companies 16 April 2004- Revised Corporate Governance Principles 26 October 2001- Report of the Pension Fund Corporate Governance Research Committee, Action Guidelines for Exercising Voting Rights June 1998- Corporate Governance Principles: A Japanese view 30 October 1997- Urgent Recommendations Concerning Corporate Governance September 1997Table 1: International Corporate GovernanceJapan, Germany and France are modern, dynamic, interconnected industrialized society.But China is rapidly developing into the largest industrial economy in the world. It hasweak corporate governance foundations. The State is a major shareholder. State-ownedenterprises dominated a system of central planning. Accountability is not an issue in China.It represents the fall of corporate governance in 2008. 5. Representing Corporate Governance 6
  7. 7. Large corporations were a dominant force in American society for generations but aninterconnected movement toward a finance-centered economy was revealed by the firstdecade of the 21st century. If anything, mutual funds are remarkably passive in corporategovernance (DAVIS, 2009). A rhetorical context favors shareholder value and OEM model.In Anglo-Saxon countries like the US and UK corporate governance involves firmspursuing the interests of shareholders. But the firm is a walrasean fiction. Walras representsthe world in equilibrium. Richard Nelson, Sidney Winter, Samuel Bowles, and HerbertGintis claim for a research that is different from Franklin Allen perspective. Marketeconomies operate in an ecosystem of expectations. A society of minds is not only aboutnumbers. Neither shareholder nor stakeholder says Anna Grandori. The word governance issynonymous with the exercise of authority, direction, and control. The form ofrepresentation cannot be divorced from its purpose: authority and control. In the end, it isabout control. One can control the other body, purchase of intimacy, caring relations saysViviana Zelizer. But it is different from mobilize minds in the 21st-century organization.McKinsey´s Strategy Practice mans like Eric Beinhocker and Lowell Bryan has a very clearvision of governance. People form organizations to minimize transaction costs. Using thestandard established by Coase (1937) and concerned with the problem of social cost(COASE, 1960), the main reason why it is profitable to establish a firm would seem to bethat there is a cost of using the price mechanism. The most obvious cost of “organizing”production through the price mechanism is that of discovering what the relevant prices are.Using the standard established by Williamson (1996), the mechanisms of governance usedby this paper over that secular debate are those from the new institutional economics.Governance is also an exercise in assessing the efficacy of alternative modes (means) oforganization. It is not a myth of authority. It is not about words. In the end, it is abouttransactions.But there are costs and risks. Risk analysis is broadly defined to include risk assessment,risk characterization, risk communication, risk management, and risk policy. And there aremany lies. And it is not about words. It is about numbers – very big numbers. And it isabout money and greed. It is not a myth. The words “Enron and WorldCom”, “Barings”,“Long-Term Capital Management” and “Société General”, “Washington Mutual”, “BearStearns”, “Lehman Brothers”, “Merrill Lynch” , “AIG”, “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac”,“Goldman Sachs”, “Sadia”, “Aracruz”, “Agrenco”, “Banco Panamericano” describe firmsand the opportunist behavior. It is a fact. The corporate sector has been plagued by hugescandals relating to excessive manager compensation and fraudulent bookkeeping. Briefly,the academic focus is shifting from the thing being exchanged to one on the process ofexchange. 7
  8. 8. 6. Words and Transactions: the end of Gutenberg ageThe end of space age is a fact. Otherwise the researcher is worried with the question ofaccountability in Brazil. Houston we have a problem. Concentrated ownership, monitoringby active owners, strong managerial incentives, and efficient capital structure relievemanagers from short-term pressures from public shareholders. It is a myth. The leveragedbuyout, the king of capital, residual claims, and T. Boone Pickens are a natural field for theeducation of a speculator. When I can’t lift the phone to make a trade it high time to closeshop and go to the track. It is a secret of a professional turf betting. These claims havestimulated some debate. Private equity creates value to GP, Advent and Pátria. It is a fact inBrazilian economy.There are two non-related literatures. A number of studies consider new institutionaleconomics and transaction-cost approach. These studies typically examine one unit ofanalysis: the transaction. However, we take Gareth Morgan seriously (GRANT, OSWICK,1996). Organization science is about tasks, responsibilities, practices, quality, andinnovation. New technologies disrupt long-established business models. It is not about atheory of the firm. Most companies today were designed for the 20th century. It was verydifficult to find the field of “language”. Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ronald Coase are twonon-related authors. But, our unit of analysis is the binomial word-transaction.The insightful and provocative article by Stephen Vargo and Robert Lusch argues that,because marketing has historically been informed by static-equilibrium economics, it hashad a goods-centered dominant logic. Briefly, the academic focus is shifting from the thingbeing exchanged to one on the process of exchange. Gutenberg age is dead. Corporategovernance is not about advertising. Corporate governance is not about channels. Corporategovernance is about investor relations. An investor relation is not about sales. An investorrelation is about information. The investor could be not a speculator. But the investor is nota manufacturer. It is about financial knowledge. And it is not a myth. And the investor doesnot lift the phone to make a trade. He makes a trade through an iPad.Words and transactions are on the web 2.0. Facebook, twitter, foursquare, zynga, linkedinare brands from the web 2.0. And we have a new verb: to “google”. It is easier to regulatefinance than to understand the algorithm that determines the search result and the field ofdata science. It is called web 3.0. Online-search and online advertising creates value in realstate business through a CRM practice. One entrepreneur can make R$ 10 millions businessin just four years. It is not a single transaction. It is not day trade. It is a small number. It isabout vision, tasks, responsibilities and practice. Ludwig Wittgenstein´s Viena societycared for literature, satire and the polemic Karl Kraus. Philosophers from Plato andAristotle to Maurice Merlau-Ponty have been concerned with problems relating tolanguage. Paul Ricoeur considers the “word” a unit of analysis. And, our unit of analysis isthe binomial word-transaction. Corporate governance is not about networks. Corporategovernance is not about quality. But, corporate governance is about accountability. Wehave a big problem in Brazil. Lets face it through debate and research likeZYLBERSZTAJN, FARINA and LAZZARINI. 8
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