Report

Special Report on Business Ethics: Enhancing Corporate Governance

Corporate governance refers to the rules and policies that determine how a company is controlled. On the face of it, what does it have to do with ethics – or choices between right and wrong? According to Henrik Syse, a senior fellow at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, Norway, the connection between ethics and corporate governance is exceedingly close. “Corporate governance is about such topics as accurate reporting, a sound board structure, sustainable finances, a positive work environment, consciousness of the relationship between principals and agents, and long-term strategies for the firm as a whole,” he notes. “Such topics are obviously ethical, as they deal with how a firm relates to the outside world, and how it builds relationships within. We may not always explicitly talk about such issues as ethical, but ipso facto they are.”

The goal of this special report – the first of four that will be published by Knowledge@Wharton and AKO Foundation – is to explore how firms can enhance their understanding and implementation of corporate governance. In the report, which features insights from Wharton faculty and other experts, we consider five key topics: the relationship between corporate governance and the purpose of a firm; whether firms have a moral responsibility; the link between corporate governance and compliance programs; the impact of corporate culture; and the role of leadership and boards of directors. Future reports in this series will examine themes such as moral philosophy, corruption and business for peace.

Knowledge@Wharton thanks AKO Foundation for its support in publishing this series. Founded by Nicolai Tangen in 2013, the AKO Foundation is funded in part by the profit from AKO Capital, one of the leading European investment funds. Since its inception, the AKO Foundation has been funded with more than $50 million to support projects that improve education or promote the arts.