Wharton School Program Teams With Egon Zehnder International to Guide Corporate Boards in India

Program Includes Corporate Governance Best Practices That Reflect Indian Business Context With Appreciation for International Standards

Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES

PHILADELPHIA, March 2, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the wake of 2009's Satyam Computer Services scandal, Indian companies are increasingly mindful of the need for robust corporate governance — particularly in an era of explosive growth. To address these issues, the Aresty Institute of Executive Education of the Wharton School has partnered with Egon Zehnder International, a firm specializing in board consulting and leadership teams, to offer the corporate governance best practices program, Guiding the Future of India's Boards: Governing the Corporation.

Designed to furnish board members with corporate governance best practices, strategies for growth, and the means for sharpening vigilance, the Wharton School fourth annual event, held in December 2009 in Mumbai, India, gathered more than 20 business leaders, board members, and expert faculty for an intensive, high-energy summit. Sessions covered topics such as ethical, fiduciary, legal, and social responsibility; driving corporate strategy; investor capitalism; lessons learned from the Satyam, WorldCom, and Enron scandals; and succession planning.

"The India corporate governance program has changed over the years in tandem with the changing needs of the environment," says Sandhya Karpe, senior director of executive programs for Wharton Executive Education. "We've always worked to integrate international best practices with the particular challenges India faces — for instance, the fact that many companies in India are family-run. But this year we also changed the curriculum to reflect the response to Satyam."

The program in India is of a piece with Aresty's corporate governance programs in China and the United States, though each has a distinct curriculum. "Corporate governance is an area that is probably more different from country to country than any other area of company operations," says Michael Useem, Wharton Professor of Management, Director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management, and a faculty member in the corporate governance program.

"National histories, regulatory regimes, and regional norms are always distinctive, and these factors influence how companies are run and how boards operate," Useem observes. In December's program, Useem drew from his own research to focus on the relationship between boards and ownership and equity markets, as well as the internal dynamics of the boardroom — since they are both different from and similar to governance principles in other national settings.

Useem and Harbir Singh, Wharton's Mack Professor of Management, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives, Co-Director of the Mack Center for Technological Innovation, and the program's academic director, have coauthored, along with Peter Cappelli, Wharton's George W. Taylor Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Human Resources, and Jitendra Singh, Wharton's Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management, The India Way: How India's Top Business Leaders Are Revolutionizing Management, a book due out in late March 2010. The India Way offers insights gleaned from interviews with leaders of more than one hundred of India's largest companies, and it identifies four distinctive aspects of Indian business leadership that have helped fuel their companies' remarkable growth in recent years. 

"We have found that the leaders of large companies in India express an exceptional obligation to work with the community and to serve the public interest in ways that are less evident in the United States," Useem reports. "With a different ownership structure and a distinctive executive mindset, governing boards of Indian firms operate differently from what we see in the West.

"At the same time," Useem continues, "as public and private equity increasingly flow into India from abroad, international investors are more often evaluating Indian boards through the lens of American and European governance principles. They are judging Indian practices with international standards, and this is pressing Indian firms to become well informed about those standards. Our program in Mumbai thus seeks to identify governance practices and policies that work well in the Indian context and that reflect an appreciation for the governance standards that international investors are bringing to the table."  

For information on the next India corporate governance program, visit www.executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu/open-enrollment/corporate-governance-programs


The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school — is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. Informed by in-depth academic research and extensive industry experience, Wharton Executive Education programs offer a supportive and challenging context where participants gain the skills necessary for their next level of executive development. In open enrollment and customized programs, participants from a diverse range of industries interact with Wharton faculty, who are the most cited, most published faculty of all top-tier business schools. With a profound influence on global business, Wharton faculty are the trusted advisors of corporations and governments worldwide.


Egon Zehnder International is the largest privately held executive search firm in the world, with more than 385 consultants located in 63 wholly owned offices in 37 countries. The firm specializes in senior-level executive search, board consulting and director search, management appraisals, and talent management.

Egon Zehnder International has a dedicated practice specializing in board consulting. The Group focuses its efforts on the highest level of an organization and works in a collaborative manner with the chairman of the board and its members. Typical activities include reviewing overall board performance or appraising individual board member contributions to recruiting directors whose independence, intellect, integrity, and courage will strengthen the board and create sustained competitive advantage.

Egon Zehnder International identifies those critical competencies required of the board as a whole, as well as its individual members, that will enable it to graduate from the traditional role of "oversight" to the more valuable role of "contribution." An effective board composed of the right people, focusing on the right issues, and working in an environment of dialogue, not monologue, is a high-value corporate asset. We aim to ensure that the board has a balanced perspective and that the collective wisdom of the directors is unleashed and utilized for the benefit of the company's shareholders.

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