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Bridging the gap between EU and US corporate governance

In today’s global economy, are European businesses are being governed in the same way as in the U.S.?  And, above all, are the rules of governance the same? These are important questions in better understanding the different corporate cultures found on either side of the Atlantic, cultures that appear, in many ways, to be far apart, but which could also now be coming closer together. So long as the rules and laws of governance allow it.

Whitney K. Taylor has taken a close look at the matter in his thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in European Union Studies in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which he obtained just a few weeks ago. Entitled “Dueling shares: comparative EU-US corporate governance practices”, the work looks at the cultural and corporate rules, attitudes and other mechanisms that are tied to the corporate governance of businesses in the U.S. and Europe and is particularly important because of the method that Taylor has used. He starts with empirical evidence taken from 24 case studies of actual organisations such as Danone, Dassault, Naturex and Total in Europe, and of IBM, Apple, Google, Exxon, Kellog in the U.S., while also referring to a wide range of literature on the topic.  Of these 24 organisations, he then uncovers any unwritten procedures and looks at the rules of conduct, the laws that apply, and how the organisations have evolved.

The current rules of governance are then seen in relation to the histories and societies that have characterised the U.S. and Europe. The goal of the study was to determine, in Taylor’s words, “whether divergences still exist, and why these divergences may persist”. Or in other words, “Will there come a day in which the rules of governance of EU and US companies can be the same?”

Dueling shares: comparative EU-US corporate governance practices

Whitney K. Taylor

Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign