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What is corporate governance?

The purpose of corporate governance is to facilitate effective, entrepreneurial and prudent management that can deliver the long-term success of the company.

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Corporate governance is the system by which companies are directed and controlled. Boards of directors are responsible for the governance of their companies. The shareholders’ role in governance is to appoint the directors and the auditors and to satisfy themselves that an appropriate governance structure is in place.

The responsibilities of the board include setting the company’s strategic aims, providing the leadership to put them into effect, supervising the management of the business and reporting to shareholders on their stewardship.

Corporate governance is therefore about what the board of a company does and how it sets the values of the company, and it is to be distinguished from the day to day operational management of the company by full-time executives.

In the UK for listed companies corporate governance it is part of the legal system as the latest  UK Corporate Governance Code applies to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019 and applies to all companies with a premium listing of equity shares regardless of whether they are incorporated in the UK or elsewhere.

But good governance can have wider impacts to the non listed sector because it is fundamentally about improving transparency and accountability within existing systems. One of the interesting developments in the last few years has been the way in which the ‘corporate’ governance label has been used to describe governance and accountability issues beyond the corporate sector. This can be confusing and misleading as UK Corporate Governance has been built and developed to deal with the governance of listed company entities and not designed to cover all organisational types that may have different accountability structures.

Many academic studies conclude that well governed companies perform better in commercial terms.


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