Universität Bremen  

“A New Direction Emerging –
Governance in and of Firms”

72nd VHB Annual Congress 2010
German Academic Association for Business Research (VHB)
27 – 29 May 2010 at the University of Bremen
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Nation states or societies formulate expectations concerning the behaviour of commercial firms, and commercial firms formulate expectations regarding their managers and employees. Crises represent a challenge to currently applied concepts with respect to their contents and their overall coherence. Especially profound systemic crises call for an answer as to whether political or societal expectations have been adequately formulated and implemented, or whether inherent deficiencies have contributed to or even caused the crisis at hand. The same applies to commercial firms. The sum of ideas that governments and societies have explicitly and implicitly formulated about the role and conduct of commercial firms can be characterised as the governance of firms. Catchwords like “social market ecomomy” (coordinated capitalism), “planification” or “liberal market economy” stand for such different pre-conceptions. There are many more conceptual ways in which commercial activities can be organised inside a company. We refer to this as governance in firms. Examples are, to name but a few: “agency relationships”, “budgeting and beyond”, “delegation and empowerment”, “intrapreneurship” or “shareholder value creation”.

Without knowing the internal relationships of and between these micro-, meso- and macro-level concepts, research may fail in adequately describing or explaining behaviour of individual or collective actors such as governments, firms or managers. We need to advance our understanding of how macro- and meso-level governance impinges on firms and individuals, and we need to learn more about the possibilities and risks of transplanting only elements of foreign governance systems. We also have to consider whether branches of economic and management science may have utilised governance concepts which are at odds with each other and give contradictory advice to managers or political decision makers.

This conference aims at investigating the interrelationships between different concepts of governance and aims at helping to sort out the unrelated multitude of ideas in management science. We intend to explore what is complementary and what is contradictory in our approaches, and establish insights into connections and disconnections of governance concepts on the micro-, meso- and macro-levels.

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