Does Good Governance Pay?


Good governance costs a lot of money. But does it pay? The author argues that is does pay - by the truckload!

The debate is on and the partisans on both sides are making their arguments. The issue being discussed: Has SOX helped or hurt US businesses?

Well, if you were an Enron investor or employee, would you be asking this question? If you are an investor in a company that is making this noise about additional governance and compliance, how much should you trust the "financial reports" coming out of that company? If it is your money at stake, would you like accountability?

SOX is not a moral imperative it is a business imperative. It does not require additional work; it is the work that should be done as a matter of daily practice. (If you had to do "additional" work to put in controls then you need to be fired for not having those controls in place to begin with.) It should not introduce a new way of thinking or a change in culture; it should be the way people responsible to other people should act and behave always and without exception.

Accountability is the foundation of capitalism. Accountability only scares those who are not trustworthy. Period.

Before we forget, shareholders own the company and the management - and the employees - work for them. The management of privately held companies will not survive a day presenting the argument that they need to put in "additional" controls so the financial reports they are presenting to the owners are accurate. Yet, the management of widely held public companies present this ludicrous argument with the self righteousness of the pious.

SOX is a good first step in the direction of accountability to shareholders. It needs to be enforced - so far it is just a lot of talk not backed up by any substantive or meaningful action.

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Posted on 03/17/2009 by


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