When talking about corporate governance, the US market-based model was, for many years, cited as a system to be admired, and was often contrasted with the bank-centred German and Japanese models. Efficiency and solid economic growth were said to be the key features of the loosely regulated American approach. However, this standard perspective has been shown to be inaccurate for two reasons. First, the now infamous Enron scandals of 2001 brought the hidden inefficiency of the US system into stark relief. Second, the German and Japanese models are not only different in themselves, but both are undergoing radical change due to the ongoing pressures of internationalization especially in the financial industry and capital markets. It is this second point that will be the focus of the two-day conference.
The first day of the conference will provide information mainly for professionals.
It will focus on changes within the German system. These changes are occurring in the German legal system, in the German Code of Corporate Governance, in German management practices and in German academic debate. The development of the German Code of Corporate Governance will be given particular prominence, with the head of Germany’s government commission detailing the history of the code, as well as its functions and future challenges. The aim of the first day is to provide extensive information for practitioners from the business community interested in operating within Germany.
The second day is centered on academic exchange.
It will offer a range of comparative theory centred on the differences between the German and Japanese models. Speakers will address the overall idea of corporate governance, legal changes in both countries, the differing relationships between financial institutions and corporations, and the role of employees. Areas of specific interest are changes in the Japanese commercial code that allow new board structures closer to the American approach, the ongoing question of the efficiency of labour in German supervising committees where the benefits of specialized knowledge are balanced against the disadvantage of rigidity, and the role of Japanese employees in companies whose traditional duty has been to provide employment but who now face international pressures to restructure. The aim of the second day is to stimulate academic debate in the field of comparative theory and so provide possible grounds for further research.