It should not be treated as a separate exercise undertaken to meet regulatory requirements." (ICA, 29) Here is expressed a philosophical impetus that drives the focus of this research, that such compliance which will generally concern matters such as corporate accounting, the practice of internal oversight and the practice of financial transaction must be considered inextricable from other aspects of practical, procedural and legal operation in terms of its relevance and necessity.
The practice of corporate governance may perhaps best be understand from the perspective that deregulation has largely defined the processes and direction of the global economy across the two decades following the Cold War and its inevitable opening of economic channels. This is because in practice, corporate governance is a concept which has suffered much neglect. To the point, the statistics availed by organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund illustrate that there are fomenting problems in the current manner in which globalization is executed based on the absence of any real accountability or governance at the international level. This will be important to the discussion which naturally concerns the deregulation that is inherent to the process of globalization. Additionally, the discussion will address the legislation which has been designed to attend to such issues as accounting irregularities and the need for corporations to develop a stronger internal sense of the necessity for sound ethical practice.
The internationalization of our economy has contributed to a change in the nature of corporate governance. Companies to this juncture operating only under the laws of their sovereign nations would suddenly be presented with a veritable cornucopia of legal and economic alternatives to the historical nation/state limitations of corporate enterprising. Governments large and small would find themselves removed from the help of corporate governance by a redistribution of authority. "Many believe that governments are now being pressed by the forces of globalization to transfer policy functions and political authority "upwards" to supranational entities, "downwards" to provincial and local governments, and "sidewards" to private corporate and NGO actors." (Kahler et al., 1) the primary implication here is that the change in the nature of the world economy, wherein nations have become increasingly interdependent through relationships forged by the integration of their private sectors, is contributing to a decentralization of decision-making as it effects the responsible and visionary administration of a multinational organization. The result is that a far greater weight is being displaced upon decision-making at the individual organizational level. Federal governments and international alliances have taken a general approach of deregulation, resulting in a condition where globalizing companies and industries essentially must protect themselves against practices which are either short-sighted, economically unsound or absent of a conscientiousness of humanitarian concerns both at home and abroad.
This is to indicate that while the wave of deregulatory consequences has induced a shared consent for the misappropriation which generally characterizes globalization in its current form, this absence of any genuinely effective body for corporate governance is allowing pacesetting organizations to create a new mold for the effective development of appropriate solutions to the problems discussed in this account.
This is why, in practical application, it must fall upon governments in those nations which have so aggressively pursued, enabled and led the process of global deregulation to turn their attention toward real and pressing domestic needs for oversight. In Chapter 4, a focus on the legislation at the heart of this process shows how the U.K. And the U.S. have approached the policy aspects of the issue.
Chapter 4-the Application of Theory to Practice:
The focus on accounting in both the U.K. And the U.S. is demonstrative of the core issues and incidences which have produced the need. This is notable as a direct response to the specific nature of such cases as Enron. Indeed, just as Enron had been a symbol for the perceived economic prosperity of the 90's, so too would it become emblematic of the malfeasant underbelly of America's increasingly unregulated and poorly self-governed corporations. In 2002, allegations came to the surface that the organization's core of executive leaders had misrepresented company earnings, participated in insider-trading and had essentially looted the company of its value.
Through its accounting firm, the likewise large-scaled Arthur Andersen, "Enron lied about its profits and stands accused of a range of shady dealings, including concealing debts." (BBC News, 1) the company's top executives had misled investors and shareholders with regard to actual performance indicators and stock values, creating a false investment atmosphere which persisted for years as a front for the embezzlement of top officials. When the company's collapse became inevitable, its shareholders collectively pulled out, forcing the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Its ethical misappropriation would send a shockwave through the corporate world, contributing to the outright dissolution of control over Arthur Andersen, the destruction of Enron's employee pension fund, the onset of a federal probe into the company's clear improprieties and the consequent revelation of an epidemic of corruption in the corporate world at large. And to this last effect, as with Enron, for many other companies guilty of the same fraudulent practices, the consequences would be total collapse.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act would be the most salient legislative product of this outcome, establishing for the first time a government agency charged exclusively with the task of monitoring the accounting practices of corporate auditors. (Skeel, 110) the creation of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) as a function of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act would mark the first of such agencies, charged with the specific duty of monitoring industries for accounting malfeasance. Under the umbrella of this new agency, government appointed auditors are expected to ensure accountability in our corporate leadership. This is to say that "after Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, Ahold, Barings and other headline episodes, auditors promised to improve the quality of their work." (Sikka, 1) Sarbanes-Oxley contends to help them keep this promise.
In the U.K., the focus has also been cast on the role of accounting and accounting standards with respect to the improvement of corporate governance. In many ways, with such governance on both sides of the Atlantic revolving on issues of financial inconsistency, the role of the accountant has become the central aspect of improving corporate oversight. Though in the past the accounting profession has been seen as a functionary occupation, the practitioners of which are concerned with the presentation of economic figures relating to individual and organizational financial performance, today it is taking center stage in the design of Parliamentary intervention into corporate behavior. Where in the past, accountancy has been seen largely as a field reserved for mathematical grunt-work, with its output serving as indicative of performance rather than incursive upon it, today, that perspective has been altered significantly, for better and for worse.
Accounting functions for those working either within the parameters of the United Kingdom or for accounting firms based in the United Kingdom are manifold. Corporate and private auditing is chief amongst these. As with that which is prescribed by Sarbanes-Oxley to American firms, most corporate entities today are expected to either maintain accounting professionals on staff or to outsource their accounting needs to firms specializing in handling the needs of large business clients. (ASB, 1) by far, the vast majority of top-trading organizations on the London Stock Exchange implement the latter of these strategies, relying on the economic analysis and presentation rendered by external agencies to conduct said audits. In the performance of an audit, the accountancy professional will be expected to examine a corporation's financial activities in whole. This means that the properly trained accountant will review all spending transactions, revenue and investment activities in order to achieve a whole picture of an organization's standing. (ASB, 1)
That stated, as we evaluate the relative effectiveness of current U.K. standards on corporate governance, it becomes clear that certain differences in its governance approach are illustrative of a cultural difference between the U.S. And the U.K. As to the generic definition of corporate governance which applies throughout this discussion, it is strengthened by certain common ground between the two nations. For instance "Sarbanes-Oxley, which called for tighter internal company controls, caused a rethink of corporate governance laws in the UK as well, with the publication of the Higgs report, written by Derek Higgs, the former investment banker." (Tran, 1) in this report, corporate governance in the U.K. would begin to take on its current form, where though greater detail is given on how to invoke disclosure from organizations on transactions and practices where necessary, we would find a system that remains far more voluntary in its imposition of standards.
Evidence suggests that as major corporate scandals continue even now in the years to follow Sarbanes-Oxley to rock such nations as the United States, the more voluntary nature of disclosure in the U.K. has been sufficient in preventing any major developments in terms of corporate collapse. This is no modest accomplishment considering some of the degrees to which…