Voici un compte rendu, paru dans le NYT, d’un article scientifique, publié dans The Accounting Review en juillet 2014, qui montre que les administrateurs ayant des relations d’amitié avec le président et chef de la direction (PCD) de l’entreprise sont moins enclins à exercer une supervision serrée des activités de la direction.
Cependant, le fait de divulguer ces relations personnelles n’a pour effet de raffermir les devoirs de diligence et de vigilance des administrateurs, mais sert plutôt de prétexte pour les dédouaner en leur permettant d’être encore plus tolérants des actions de leur PCD.
Les auteurs tirent deux conclusions de ces résultats : (1) le fait de divulguer des conflits ou des relations personnelles n’élimine pas les conséquences négatives reliées à cette divulgation et (2) les actionnaires doivent se méfier des liens trop étroits que certains administrateurs entretiennent avec leur PCD.
Rappelons-nous que trop près n’est pas préférable à trop loin. Un juste équilibre doit s’imposer !
L’étude “Will Disclosure of Friendship Ties between Directors and CEOs Yield Perverse Effects? » a été conduite par Jacob M. Rose et Anna M. Rose de Bentley University, Carolyn Strand Norman de Virginia Commonwealth University et Cheri R. Mazza de Sacred Heart University. En voici quelques extraits. Bonne lecture !
But the research makes a counterintuitive finding as well. The conventional wisdom holds that when you disclose personal ties, you create transparency and better governance. The experiment found that when social relationships were disclosed as part of director-independence regulations, board members didn’t toughen their oversight of their chief-executive pals. Rather, the directors went easier on the C.E.O., perhaps believing that they had done their duty by disclosing the Relationship.
Now for the results: Among the directors who counted the C.E.O. as a friend, 46 percent said they would cut research and development by one-quarter or more to ensure a bonus payout to their pal. By contrast, only 6 percent of directors with no personal ties to the chief executive agreed to reduce research and development to generate a bonus.
That’s to be expected.
The results get more interesting when disclosure is added to the mix. An astonishing 62 percent of directors who disclosed a friendship with the C.E.O. said they would cut $10 million or more from the budget — the amount necessary to generate a bonus. Only 28 percent of the directors who had not disclosed their relationship with the executive agreed to make the cuts necessary to generate a bonus.
Only one director with no ties to the executive agreed to cut the budget by $10 million or more.
Mr. Rose, an author of the paper, said he and his colleagues were surprised that so many directors said they’d be willing to put the company at risk to ensure a bonus for their pal, the C.E.O. “If just by mentioning that you’re friends with the C.E.O. it affects their decision-making, we think the effects going on in the real world are much, much larger than what we picked up in the lab,” Mr. Rose said in an interview last week.
Even more disturbing, he said, was that so many directors seemed to think that disclosing their friendships with the C.E.O. gave them license to put the executive’s interests ahead of the company’s.
“When you disclose things, it may make you feel you’ve met your obligations,” Mr. Rose said. “They’re not all that worried about doing something to help out the C.E.O. because everyone has had a fair warning.”