A pragmatist case …

Ethics in the boardroom is fraught with complexity. Whose interests do directors protect? Whose causes do they advance? On what basis – what ethical considerations – do they make those determinations? And how do they come to consensus about what is the right thing to do, or the right way to do it? These issues are aired in a collection of essays complied by Till Talaulicar in a new Research Handbook on Corporate Governance and Ethics, published by Edward Elgar.

My contribution to it is called “A pragmatist case for thoughtfulness and experimentation in corporate governance.” It conducts a series of thought experiments and considers how directors – you and I – might reason our way to a decision. The chapter builds a case for act-based ethics, rather than following rules, especially when the situations are novel and directors are divided over which type of ethical consideration apply.

Steering a business to success…

As part of its podcast series, Dorset Growth Hub invited me to discuss the role that boards – and corporate governance more generally – can play in smaller businesses. Theorists often talk about how boards play two contradictory roles: “service” – providing insights and access to key resources – and “control” – stopping a runaway executive.

But from my own board experience, I’ve seen how hard it is to separate the two. Let’s think about how serving on a board is like driving a car, I suggested, and then asked: “Why do they put brakes on cars?” Here’s the answer!



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