Inside the Corporate Governance Complex

by Suzanne Stevens, for Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, May 20, 2010

In an article titled What Berle and Means have wrought in the May 17 issue of The Deal magazine and available on thedeal.com, my colleague Michael Rudnick and I map the well-funded, sprawling and interlocking set of institutions that have grown up around corporate governance over the past 30 years or so. This governance complex, with major outposts across the country at research universities, law firms, the federal government, institutions, activist hedge funds and even blogs like this one, generates considerable intellectual and financial firepower. We lay out some of its fissures, schism and alliances, and talk to movers and shakers including legal icons Ira Millstein and Martin Lipton, Harvard’s Lucian Bebchuk, Stanford’s Joe Grundfest, Relational Investors’ Ralph Whitworth, Calpers’ Anne Simpson and The Corporate Library’s Nell Minow.

Why now? The financial crisis has propelled the issue of the role of boards and balance sheet transparency high onto regulatory and legislative agendas. Congress is threatening to reach deep into corporate boardrooms on executive pay, and the Obama-era SEC is taking a more activist approach to governance than at any time since the Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. scandals of the early 2000s…(continue reading)

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