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Research seminars history


Boards and governance in small firms: An integrated view on value-creating board tasks

Ekonomie doktor Jonas Gabrielsson, Högskolan i Halmstad

About the research seminar
During the seminar, Jonas Gabrielsson will present a working paper co-authored by Diamanto Politis, PhD student at Lund University. The paper is partly based on his dissertation "Boards and governance in SMEs: an inquiry into boards' contribution to firm performance" (2003).

Theory on boards and governance has mainly been developed from studies of large publicly held corporations. Few firms in Europe can however be compared with these complex and largely diversified organizations, and a relevant question is to which extent current conceptualizations can be used in small privately held firms, without adjusting the situation to differences in, for example, the close relationships that often exist between owners and managers, and the general lack of internal resources that characterize these firms.

The aim of the paper is to review literature and research on boards and governance and relate it to the empirical context of small firms. Corporate governance is defined as the relationship between internal stakeholders, external stakeholders and the board of directors in determining the direction and performance of an enterprise. The board of directors, placed between the internal and external stakeholders of the organization, is identified as having a potential key role in creating value and contributing to firm performance.

To identify value-creating board tasks are four main theories in the field of corporate governance reviewed: agency theory, stewardship theory, resource dependency theory and stakeholder theory. Sprung from diverse disciplines and academic fields, the theories prescribe quite different ways in which boards create value. The prescriptions are however shown to be complementary rather than contradictory, and the paper integrates these prescriptions and links them to value creating activities in small firms, such as identifying and exploiting business opportunities and mobilizing resources to pursuit these opportunities. The paper ends with a summary and conclusion, and presents some suggestions for future research.