By Erik Banks (auth.)

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Theoretically, if these standards are upheld, shareholders and other stakeholders should be protected. Although multiple stakeholders always exist, the overriding legal accountability, certainly in pre-bankruptcy situations, is to shareholders, as the providers of risk equity. 1 Internal governance mechanisms stakeholders, morally, if not legally). Accountability to multiple stakeholders on all issues is impossible to achieve when their objectives diverge; in such instances, directors and executives must generally give legal priority to shareholders.

34) Still, it is clear that some countries have very diffuse shareholdings and rely heavily on market forces to instill governance and control discipline. 3 Summary of internal and external governance mechanisms 26 THE FUNCTION OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE Others feature concentrated shareholdings and focus primarily on longterm relationships and monitoring to enforce governance. In fact, these models have developed over a relatively long period of time (several decades at a minimum), often in response to the specific characteristics of the national or regional marketplace.

In general, legal doctrines give directors the strongest voice in advancing the interests of the company and its shareholders. If the board is capable, independent, and efficient it can represent the company and serve shareholders; if it is not, it may be ineffective in doing either. Although a board should be a strong shareholder advocate, in some firms – typically those operating under the relationship and hybrid models – it plays a less dominant role. 4 Throughout the modern corporate era and into the twenty-first century, this type of board has featured quite prominently in Japan, Mexico, and major portions of East Asia, often as a result of business tradition or concentrated ownership structures (for example, in Japan via main bank shareholdings and group company cross-shareholdings, in Mexico and various East Asian nations via family control blocks).

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