Chapter 10: Agenda Setting for Accountability: The Swedish Code of Corporate Governance
Susan Marton THE ISSUE EMERGES Why did corporate governance checks and balances that served us reasonably well in the past break down? At root was the rapid enlargement of stock market capitalizations in the latter part of the 1990s that arguably engendered an outsized increase in opportunities for avarice. An infectious greed seemed to grip much of our business community. (Alan Greenspan, Speech to US Congress, July 2002, quoted in Nofsinger and Kim 2003, p. xix) Enron in the USA, Parmalat in Italy, Barings Bank and BCCI in England, and Skandia in Sweden – the list of corporate ﬁnancial scandals is long, the cases are not unique to any single country, and the solutions seem varied. In the USA, tough new laws on accounting oversight have been ratiﬁed with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (also known as the ‘Public Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act’) of 2002. In Europe, the European Commission is discussing new accounting rules that will be obligatory for all EU companies. At a conference on citizen trust and corporate governance in London, Unilever’s former Chairman, Sir Michael Perry, referred to the combination of corporate greed, abuse of power, short-termism and the erosion of ‘mutuality’ in industrial relations that had harmed public conﬁdence in businesses (Perry 2003). The public outcry has been intense and politicians are responding. In Sweden, the Finance Minister stated, ‘If the business world does not succeed in recreating trust on its own hand, then the Government’s Commission on Business Conﬁdence will have to...
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