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In this fourth edition, we can see that corporate governance is becoming a more vital and all-encompassing topic with each year. We all realise that the modern corporation is one of the most ingenious concepts ever devised. Our lives are dominated by corporations. We eat and breathe through them, we travel with them, we are entertained by them, most of us work there. Most corporations aim to add value to society and they very often do. Some, however, are exploiting, polluting, poisoning and impoverishing us. A lot depends on the commitment, direction and aims of a corporation’s founders, shareholders, boards and vital staff members. Do they show commitment to all stakeholders or to long-term shareholders only, or mainly to short-term shareholders? There are many variations of structure of corporations and boards within each country and between countries. All will agree that much depends on the personalities and commitment of the persons of influence in the corporation.
We see that everyone wants to be involved in ‘better corporate governance’: parliaments, governments, the European Commission, the SEC, the OECD, the UN’s Ruggie reports, the media, supervising national banks, shareholder activists and other stakeholders. The business world is getting more complex and overregulated, and there are more black swans, while good strategies can quite quickly become outdated.
Each country has its own measures; however, the chapters of this book show a convergence. The concept underlying the book is of a one-volume text containing a series of reasonably short, but sufficiently detailed, jurisdictional overviews that permit convenient comparisons, where a quick ‘first look’ at key issues would be helpful to general counsel and their clients.