Prof. Gill North

The Role and Accountability of Corporate Boards for Corporate Disclosure & Communication

 Disclosure principles are included in all corporate governance codes, reflecting the strong emphasis on reporting as an accountability mechanism in the Cadbury Report. There is minimal literature that discusses the efficacy of the corporate governance disclosure principles and the commitment of boards to public reporting and engagement. Hence this paper examines whether effective disclosure and communication is a priority focus within modern corporations and whether boards are engaging sufficiently with local stakeholders. The paper acknowledges the tensions that arise when boards are expected to communicate effectively with a diverse range of interested groups with differing interests and perspectives. Nevertheless, it argues that the disclosure principles in corporate governance codes are still narrowly framed and recent amendments regarding communications with stakeholders are weak and poorly structured. It highlights policy concessions that have undermined meaningful notions of public transparency, accountability and engagement and suggests these policy developments have hindered necessary transitional change. The paper concludes that many boards fail to treat public communication as a priority matter, that the corporate governance disclosure frameworks lack sufficient substance and responsiveness, and that positive impacts arising from the inclusion of disclosure principles within corporate governance codes have been muted at best.