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The book by de Kluyver is a general description of what corporate governance is and speculation on how it is organized and what its role in society should be. De Kluyver provides basic knowledge on the concept of corporate governance, how it has been evolving, and how it continues to evolve in the modern world. The book is divided into two major parts. The first one focuses on the general systematic understanding and the purpose of corporate governance. The second one focuses specifically on the board of directors as the key elements of a corporation responsible for governance (de Kluyver 4). Also, the epilogue features the author’s ideas about the future of corporate governance.
The book explores a relatively new topic of corporate governance as a socially important issue (de Kluyver ix). Within recent decades, studies have suggested that combining the knowledge of corporate systems and the knowledge of governance into a separate discipline of corporate governance can help find new necessary solutions to the present-day challenges of social organization and cooperation. The author suggests that, in terms of structure, interaction, achieving goals and performing efficiently, any society can learn from corporations, where attaining objectives, effective decision-making, and monitoring are priorities.
The author also demonstrated a link between the corporate governance and the society as he shows the examples where poor corporate decision-making lowered the well-being of communities, within which certain corporations operated (de Kluyver 11). Such examples are to underline that learning about how corporate governance should be performed and applying this knowledge effectively are prerequisites of societies’ development and well-being.
The book has a strong argumentative basis. The author supports his ideas with three persuasion tools: referring to academic studies, providing real-life examples, and communicating his own experience of exploring corporate governance and teaching about it. Since the book is a self-identified primer, it features rather simple explanations and straightforward descriptions.
Some parts of the book are written in a textbook style, i.e. they convey ideas, concepts, and facts to a reader in an affirmative way. However, a significant portion of the book is organized in the form of research, i.e. it provides arguments from different reputable sources and considerations based on different examples. Such a combination of the textbook style and the research style increases the book’s reliability and persuasiveness. Readers get a chance to compare examples and examine academic studies to ultimately agree or disagree with the author’s conclusions.
The beginning is particularly important for any book because the beginning should convince a reader to continue reading by showing that the book is interesting and important. De Kluyver begins by stating an essential challenge of corporate governance in the modern world. The challenge is a potential conflict of institutional power and individual freedom (de Kluyver 1). A corporation is about the cooperation of elements, each of which has a role.
However, each of these elements, or part of each element, is an individual with their own needs, interests, and talents. In a democratic society, individuals should interact for the well-being of everyone, but, at the same time, in a way that provides opportunities for each individual to develop his or her talents and satisfy his or her needs. Corporate governance constantly seeks for solutions in this area. This explanation of the relevance of studying corporate governance makes the book’s beginning engaging and promising.
Although the book is titled A Primer on Corporate Governance, it does not only provide basic facts on the concept, but also suggests recommendations, applications, practical advice, and insights into the future development of corporate governance. The second part of the book is dedicated to the board of directors, which is a body that rarely becomes the focus of extensive academic training.
However, de Kluyver writes in detail about the evolution of the board of directors concept and its crucial role as an executive body in corporate governance (de Kluyver 47). The practical matters that the author addresses are selecting the CEO, succession of directors, supervision, risk management, strategic planning, emergency actions, etc. It is emphasized in the book that the most challenging task for a board of directors is managing itself (de Kluyver 169). This complication is overviewed, and recommendations on how to create a high-performance board are suggested.
In the end, the author addresses the issue of globalization. The modern world provides additional challenges to corporations because they need to solve their problems under the conditions of an ever-expanding market (de Kluyver 183). The interactions become global, which requires managers to consider wider perspectives of worldwide commerce, as well as global society, diversity, and risks associated with the global economy and politics.
The book’s main takeaway is that it gives a reader the perspective of the connections between a corporation and society. From this perspective, corporate governance is not only about making a business competitive and efficient to gain more profit. Instead, it is also about ensuring that a corporation is governed in a way that meets the needs of all its stakeholders and society.
De Kluyver, Cornelis A. A Primer on Corporate Governance, New York, NY: Business Expert Press, 2009. Print.