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Title: Non-executive directors' self-interest : fiduciary duties and corporate governance
Author: Gibbs, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 3006
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2014
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The board of directors at a company usually comprises both executive and non-executive directors. Their role is to run and direct the company for its benefit since it is incapable of acting by itself. Where there is a separation of ownership and control it is recognised that there is a risk that those in control may use their power for self-interested means. Attention is often focused on the executive directors and how legal controls and governance mechanisms can reduce the possibility of self-interest in the performance of their functions. However, seldom are non-executives the focus of this problem yet they are playing an increasingly important role in the running and governance of the company. This thesis is an investigation in to whether the legal rules and governance mechanisms are suitable in reducing the possibility of self-interest amongst non-executive directors. The study uses multiple directorships as a proxy for non-executive self-interest to demonstrate whether the controls and incentives are suitable. It begins by examining the nature of a nonexecutive’s fiduciary liability to the company focusing on the nature and purpose of the duty to identify when and why the duty is owed. Identifying the nature and purpose of the duty will allow the thesis to demonstrate that existing authority and academic literature on the scope of a non-executive’s fiduciary duty is an unsuitable interpretation based on the company’s current objects and reanalyses it from the perspective of the non-executive’s undertaking on the board. Whilst the analysis concludes that this interpretation would offer a suitable scope in deterring self-interest the thesis continues by examining the enforcement of fiduciary duties by considering the new statutory derivative claim. This analysis reveals that enforcement is low and may reduce the deterrence the fiduciary duties themselves might have. With low levels of enforcement the thesis turns its attention to ex ante incentives, particularly corporate governance mechanisms, which can “nudge” the non-executive in to acting for the benefit of the firm. This analysis contains a review of the corporate governance theories and an empirical study to identify the ways non-executive self-interest may be reduced. The theoretical analysis considers the ways boards may be structured to reduce the potential for self-interested behaviour. Using multiple directorships as a proxy for self-interest the empirical analysis provides evidence as to whether they are in fact perquisite consumption and identifies possible means of control. It is considered herein that there are insufficient controls and incentives on non-executive behaviour, which may lead to increased self-interest to the detriment of the company.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available