VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne Lawyers
Prof. dr. Frank Kunneman is an expert in corporate governance. Frank has been publishing and lecturing on this subject for decades and he leads the VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne team that advises on this subject. Do you have a question about corporate governance? Send it to governance@ekvandoorne.com and perhaps your question will be discussed in this blog!

Corporate Governance

I feel that nowadays we pretty much live in a world turned upside down. An upside down world is the opposite of what is normal and logical. But what is normal and logical? According to anthropologists this varies greatly between cultures. In some cultures it’s normal to spit and burp in public. In other cultures that’s abnormal. Telling someone “just act normal!” therefore isn’t really helpful. What is the normal world and what is the one that is turned upside down?
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No, it’s another one: we’re talking about Ben’s nosebleed here. We have two grandsons. James is four and Ben is two. Obviously, Ben wants to be able to do everything that James can do. Including jumping off the couch. As if he were a kamikaze pilot, he throws himself on the floor. He is completely confident that he will fulfill this feat unharmed and just as heroic as his brother. This is true in his mind, but unfortunately his body doesn’t want to cooperate. The nosebleed leaves him crestfallen. Not because of the injury, but because of the fact that his unwavering faith has been betrayed.
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Now let’s be honest, when was the last time that you came out of a meeting feeling satisfied? I bet it has almost never happened. Do you have any idea why that is? Probably not. If you are not satisfied but don’t really know why, that is telling me something. I’m pretty sure the reason is that your meetings usually take longer than necessary. That is because most meetings are really about nothing. Yes, they are about formal trivia such as minutes, announcements, presentations of figures and so on. They are meant to last two hours so that’s the amount of time that is filled with talk, and sometimes even more. This is really irritating. The leaders of the company (management board and supervisory board) gather together and waste each other’s talents and time. On a structural basis, over and over again. “But having meetings is a must.” No it isn’t, what nonsense!
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My family and I have four dogs. Jeroen is a Great Dane. Tommie is a cross between a Cane Corso, a Rottweiler and a Labrador. Little Sophie is a mutt and, last but not least, tiny Cato is a Chihuahua. Jeroen woofs, Tommie barks, Sophie is the silent type and Cato yaps. Weighing little more than a kilogram, tiny Cato bosses all of the other dogs around, including Jeroen who tips the scales at 60 kilos. Although Cato is smaller than the size of Jeroen’s head and he could easily swallow her up in one go, Jeroen humbly steps back when Cato barks at him viciously.
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All Men are Mortal. That’s the title of a novel by Simone de Beauvoir. I read it when I was fourteen years old. It was in the late sixties. A younger generation was taking over in all corners of the world. They raved about existentialism, the philosophy that counted figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre amongst its proponents. The above-mentioned novel is definitely no laughing matter, but I remember the story up to the present day. It is basically about the sheer desperation of life if you never die. Nobody wants to die, but ultimately it will torment you if you never do.
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You’ll find one on every supervisory board: a super difficult and annoying colleague who always has a different opinion and lets himself be heard about everything. Continuously going against the grain and always wanting to take charge. How do you deal with such a situation? The answer to that question is: watch and observe closely. Not just that particular colleague, but the board as a whole.
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Supervisory directors have different tasks and functions, which are sometimes referred to as roles. There are at least three of them: the supervisory role, the advisory role and the employer’s role. The first two are explicitly described in the law, the latter isn’t. Each of the three roles has its specific issues. In this column I will discuss the employer’s role.
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About three months ago, my column discussed the National Ordinance Optimization Governmental Entities. This act was passed unanimously by the Parliament of Curaçao on 15 August 15 2016. Just a month later, even before the act came into effect, a general strike was held in Curaçao to protest against it.
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Corporate governance, you’d get sick and tired of it. Government organizations and businesses grab every opportunity, appropriate or not, to refer to principles of good corporate governance. Usually the goal is to prove that others are running their operations in the wrong way. Obviously, they themselves apply these principles correctly. What good corporate governance is really all about, however, often remains unclear. Corporate governance is a catch-all term that is applied to many different situations and is interpreted in many different ways.
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The American elections are behind us. The fallout is serious. It contains pretty toxic elements. The biggest victim of this fallout is, without a doubt, human decency. Dozens of incidents and statements of Trump that, individually, would still have led to prompt removal from the political arena a little over a year ago, have become very popular with large groups of people. Signs of toughness and so-called alpha male behavior, that should put a lost country on the map again. It does not matter when what he says is against the law: it is tough, it sounds good, so it is good.
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