Center for Corporate Governance
There is little doubt about the fact that corporate governance is here to stay. At the Center for Corporate Governance we hope to play a role in informing and shaping debate over the next decade.
Our research in corporate governance is concerned with questions such as:
- Ownership – e.g. defining the “best owner”, exercising ownership to create value
- Ownership structure: Dual class shares, family ownership, institutional investors, privatization (economics, finance)
- Board structure, the roles and responsibilities of company directors, independence (law, management, economics)
- Takeovers (finance, accounting, strategic management)
- Incentive pay for managers (finance, economics)
- Transparency and disclosure (accounting)
- Information and control systems (accounting, management)
- International differences – e.g. governance in Germany, the USA and Scandinavia and the prospects for convergence (international business)
- Corporate social responsibility and value creation (management, political science, economics).
Below are some of the most important emerging themes, to which we hope to make a contribution.
Exploring alternative governance structures
Clearly most research so far has been done on publicly listed firms in the US and the UK. Without detracting from the value of these studies, this type of firm is clearly a minority and there is a great need to examine corporate governance in other contexts: closely held firms, family-owned companies, cooperatives, foundation-ownership, non-profits, business groups, partnerships, government-owned firms etc. It is not clear that results from the US and the UK generalize to other institutional settings nor is it clear that research on publicly held firms carries over to closely held firms, business groups or other structures facing quite different challenges. We hope that careful comparative institutional analysis of these alternative structures will not only mean the investigation and explanation of a greater number of governance problems, but will also lead to a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of governance.
Corporate governance of closely held firms
Closely held firms, which account for the bulk of all economic activity in most countries and are particularly important in the Nordic countries, receive special emphasis. These firms appear to have their own corporate governance problems, which differ substantially from the classical agency problem of separating ownership and control. Using unique Danish data sources, the corporate governance characteristics of closely held firms, which include the role of the family, the decision to establish a supervisory board, succession problems and conflicts between family owners, can be documented and analyzed.
Defining best practice
Despite several decades of research the, meaning of ‘good corporate governance’ remains problematic. While rules and guidelines for best practice codes across the world have been developed there is little evidence to back them. A sobering prospect that they are not going to accomplish much to alleviate the currently perceived crisis in corporate governance is arising from major financial scandals. Meanwhile – until the next crisis – academics share a responsibility to come up with more specific, tangible suggestions on how to improve corporate governance practices.
The Center is a forum for discussion and coordination of this research effort across departments and functions. The center aims to combine academic and applied views of corporate governance. While maintaining a clear research focus we hope to make our research useful through a continuing dialogue with the business community via our advisory board, open seminars, teaching and other business contacts.
Research projects connected to the Center are managed in a decentralized way by individual project managers. The Center is active in starting up new research projects and this includes developing joint databases (merging, combining and formatting data sets, coordinating surveys), arranging research seminars, workshops and conferences with influential international researchers and the business society.