Research Handbook on Boards of Directors
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Research Handbook on Boards of Directors

Edited by Jonas Gabrielsson, Wafa Khlif and Sibel Yamak

Boards of directors are complex systems, and it is imperative to understand what the contextual forces are that shape the direction and make-up of boards. This Research Handbook provides inspiration for researchers and practitioners interested in the manifold dimensions and facets of context surrounding boards of directors.
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Chapter 12: The changing role of the chairperson of the board: an analysis of business press articles in the UK, US and Germany

Alexander Meineke, Karin Hellerstedt and Mattias Nordqvist

Abstract

This chapter describes the public discourse on the role of the chairperson of the board as depicted in newspaper articles from the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The study shows that the role of the chairperson of the board is presented in the discourse as undergoing change in recent years. We identify several focus areas of public discourse: the role of the chairperson, the separation of the roles of chairperson and CEO, the progression from CEO to chairperson position, and the German supervisory chairperson. Despite the uniqueness of some of the issues to the national governance contexts, there is a shift in the understanding of the role of the chairperson. Notably, the demands from both within and outside the organizational boundaries are said to be increasing. Shareholders and other stakeholders have heightened expectations towards the chairperson and his/her board of directors. The responsibilities have increased, and so has the accountability and exposure of chairpersons. The study identifies how the newspaper articles describe the way in which the chairpersons have risen to a more powerful position, which in turn has elevated the understanding of leadership within organizations and beyond the CEO. From the public discourses identified in the newspaper articles, we conclude that the corporate governance system today and in the future will require exceptional individuals that are willing and able to fulfill the demands that come with the job and assume personal accountability for an entire organization. Our study also discusses opportunities for future research on the chairperson of the board.

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