I'm a strong believer that function trumps form, especially in matters of governance. However, I maintain a close watch on trends in research and practice, because things can change, and one needs to maintain an open mind. A case in point is that of the Independent Chair, a trend that has been developing over the last decade or more (actually, since the 1992 Cadbury Report), which appears to have hit a speed bump recently.
This week, an article published on the Pensions and Investments website reported that, in America, support for Independent Chairmen had declined in 2013, despite a "bumper crop of calls" for independent chairs. I was somewhat flummoxed by the information presented in the article. How can increased demand lead to fewer appointments? Is this a new trend, or just a one-off blip? Who is in control, or, more directly, who actually has the power?
Corporate governance in America, as in other jurisdictions, appears to be awash with power games. Calls to separate the Chair and CEO roles appear to be founded on concerns that too much power is concentrated with one person. Yet that very power seems to hold sway. It's as if holding on to the 3P's (position, power, prestige) is more important than a fourth P—the one that actually matters —performance. When will Boards and shareholders wake up and act?
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.