Power is an interesting dimension of human behaviour. It can (and often does) bring out the best and the worst in us, and in those around us. The question of where power could or should be held has been the topic of much debate—wars even—over the centuries.
In the modern corporate context, the CEO generally occupies the alpha male (queen bee) position in a company, especially in jurisdictions where the CEO and Chair roles are combined. In such cases, the board is relegated to the relatively passive position of making those decisions it has to, and to monitoring performance. Many CEOs like it this way—they are happy to hold the power and privilege that go with the position.
An increasing number of calls, in academia and practice, are starting to challenge the status quo. However, calls for the board to take responsibility and be accountable for business performance, by becoming more involved in direction setting and strategy development, may have an unintended consequence: a power struggle. Power struggles are generally negative, because they move one's attention from the overall goal (business performance) to a lesser goal (being in control).
I'd value your thoughts on these important questions!
You raise an interesting question, Peter. As far as I am concerned, a board's two most important responsibilities are the hiring and firing of the CEO and the approval and monitoring of the strategic plan.
Really important research, Peter. While roles of the CEO and board are very much distinct and yet complementary, in law, you are making the observation that this is not the case in practice. Can't disagree with you on that. Certainly the proliferation in North America of director credentialing programs would suggest boards here have awakened to the issue if not yet solved it. One possible reason why the balance has not existed. I hope you keep us, your readers, posted on your findings from time to time!
Thank you Alan, my intention is to continue to share my findings as they emerge, as you ask. I will do so here and in conference papers.
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Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.