Retrenchment or Deception?

Embedded in McKinsey's 2007 state of the corporate board report are an odd set of findings about executive compensation and board responsibility. Most board members apparently "perceive that executives are appropriately compensated or even underpaid relative to the value they create for shareholders." They also believe their obligation as board members is to create shareholder value and/or provide oversight on behalf of shareholders.

Both conclusions seem oddly out of sync with today's zeitgeist of managing towards a more responsible corporate presence and real, rather than questionable, harmony between CEO and executive performance (share price as as measure of success or failure perhaps) and compensation in all its forms (options, severance packages, etc.)

The incongruity is made somewhat more manifest when these attitudes are contrasted  with the finding in a Strategy + Business article by Thomas Neff and Julie Hembrock Daum called The Empty Boardroom that "All in all, corporate boards have responded to the crisis occasioned by the corporate scandals of several years ago with a series of swift, focused, and smart measures. They’ve conformed in short order to regulatory and legislative mandates, but they’ve also seized the opportunity to launch a more comprehensive and constructive review of their corporate governance structure, philosophy, and best practices."

It may just be the cynic in me that says when one study suggests a troubling conventionality in board opinion and another evidence of "swift, focused, and smart measures", we are either witnessing retrenchment or deception.

Morgenson on Board Oversight

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