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ODU Business Prof Leads Effort to Create International Corporate Governance Society

wjudge-william-judgeWilliam Q. "Bill" Judge

An Old Dominion University business professor has been selected by academic colleagues from around the world to spearhead the creation of the International Corporate Governance Society (ICGS), a nonprofit educational association dedicated to addressing governance problems in the global economy.

William Q. "Bill" Judge, E.V. Williams Chair of Strategic Leadership in ODU's College of Business and Public Administration, said corporate governance - the effective stewardship of companies and other economic entities on every level - has become a central issue in the 21st century. Judge said it now stretches from traditional business practices, such as accounting, to the proper functioning of corporate boards, even considers the role of national laws and cultural norms.

Judge was editor of the premiere academic journal on the subject, Corporate Governance and International Review, from 2007-12. "I got to know academics from all around the world during my six years in that role. During my tenure, the number of submissions to the journal nearly tripled and the readership of our articles greatly expanded. I also created the journal's first editorial board. In so doing, I became more aware of the huge interest in this interdisciplinary subject worldwide."

Judge said his particular research discipline is management. "But in finance, accounting, sociology, economics, public administration and other areas, academics are studying corporate governance."

Despite this fact, no interdisciplinary international academic society has existed previously to facilitate and oversee this growing body of research. Discussions about creating one began between Judge and a half-dozen other colleagues around the world after he left the editorship of Corporate Governance and International Review.

While there are certainly excellent corporate governance practices and systems in effect today, Judge said that it's a subject that gets much more attention when there is a major corporate scandal, such as Enron's collapse, or when the entire governance system breaks down, such as what the worldwide economy continues to experience in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

"Corporate governance exists to channel corporate power for the well-being of society. Global corporations are the most powerful bodies in society today, more powerful than governments, and with much more impact on citizens' everyday lives."

Judge said many corporations use that power very responsibly, but others ignore the well-being of society and focus exclusively on short-term financial interests.

"Our new academic society seeks to enhance corporate governance practices and systems through our teaching and scholarship so that corporate power is more responsibly exercised," Judge said.

The goal of the ICGS is to better understand how corporate governance practices contribute to a healthy and high-functioning society, and to help disseminate that understanding to the rest of the world. That will be done by promoting rigorous and relevant research related to corporate governance; creating networking opportunities for corporate governance scholars and practitioners; and serving as a repository of key facts and ideas associated with corporate governance by economy.

The inaugural meeting for the ICGS is planned for fall 2015 either in Milan, Italy, or Barcelona, Spain. The society is currently seeking to become incorporated as a nonprofit educational association based in the United States, but with members worldwide. Judge estimates that there are more than 4,000 scholars with dedicated or partial research programs focused on corporate governance.

The inaugural ICGS board is composed of eight academics from leading universities worldwide, including the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and the Copenhagen School of Business in Denmark. Judge will serve as the inaugural president of ICGS and will be a member of this group of academic leaders.

He hopes the society will be of interest to a broad range of scholars. "Its focus is the global economy and its constituent societies, so governance scholars and practitioners from every economy of the world can find value in this association," Judge said.

"We want to think and act consistent with our respective society's highest values while considering emerging global norms to address major corporate issues, such as enhancing economic development in an environmentally sustainable way. There is a lot of work to be done, but the time is now for academics to more directly influence the exercise of corporate power for the well-being of all citizens."