Analyzing the business roundtable statement on the purpose of a corporation and linking it to corporate governance

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Hugh Grove ORCID logo, John M. Holcomb, Mac Clouse ORCID logo, Tracy Xu ORCID logo


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The 2019 Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, endorsed by 183 CEOs of major U.S. companies, is not such a dramatic break from the past, but rather the next step in a steady retreat from a purely financial approach and an evolution to embrace a stakeholder approach, which is now gaining more and more lip service. The major purpose of this paper is to analyze this Business Roundtable Statement and relate it to three major corporate governance issues: CEO pay, non-financial performance metrics, and sustainability reporting. Then the paper introduces the Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles, which were initially published in 2016 and updated with Version 2.0 in 2018, sponsored by 21 CEOs of major U.S. companies. These Principles provide significant guidance and recommendations for corporations, boards of directors, shareholders, and other stakeholders to follow if they want to create an environment-friendly to meet the fundamental commitments in the Business Roundtable Statement. Accordingly, the major sections of this paper are introduction, CEO pay issues, non-financial performance metrics, sustainability reporting, corporate governance impacts, key points in both versions of the Commonsense Principles, key changes in the Commonsense Principles 2.0, discussion, and conclusions.

Keywords: Business Roundtable, Purpose of a Corporation, Commonsense Corporate Governance Principles, Corporate Governance

Authors’ individual contributions: Conceptualization – H.G. and J.H.; Methodology – H.G.; Resources – M.C.; Writing – Original Draft – H.G.; Writing – Review & Editing – J.H., M.C., and T.X.; Visualization – T.X.; Funding Acquisition – M.C.

JEL Classification: G3, K16

Received: 29.11.2019
Accepted: 27.01.2020
Published online: 05.02.2020

How to cite this paper: Grove, H., Holcomb, J., Clouse, M., & Xu, T. (2020). Analyzing the business roundtable statement on the purpose of a corporation and linking it to corporate governance. Corporate Board: Role, Duties and Composition, 16(1), 19-27.