Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility

(by Brit Fløistad and Lars Lothe)


While the IMO-Guidelines have been developed by cooperation between states, and may become binding public rules, steering tools in the form of policies and internal rules on corporate governance and corporate social responsibility have been developed by business itself. Over the last decades, focus has been steadily growing on corporate governance and “corporate social responsibility.

This is not topics specifically aimed at the Arctic, but to complete the picture of influences on corporate behavior they are well worth noticing, especially in relation to indigenous people’s rights, environmental issues, and human safety. This section is by no way meant to reduce the importance of mandatory rules and government control, but it is a relevant point that what may be termed “self-restraint in self-interest” has been coming more and more in the forefront at least for major businesses. Further, the growing focus on this issue makes commercial actors much more competent when it comes to compliance with regulations applicable to their activity.

Any serious industrial actor in the shipping industry today will have a set of self-imposed rules typically addressing topics like:

·    Company ethics and codes of conduct.

·    Compliance with laws both domestic and wherever operations take place. For a shipping company operating in the Arctic a typical corporate steering document would be a manual listing the requirements to be met.

·     Health, Environment and Safety (HES). Mostly detailed manuals addressing these topics will be part of the corporate steering documents.

Certainly, implementation in the corporate steering documents of the IMO-Guidelines would be an example of good corporate governance.                                                                    

In general, it can be assumed that the implementation of good corporate governance and corporate social responsibility today are central elements in building a good reputation, and thus has become a central part of business itself. Further, a growing recognition has emerged within businesses that the adverse effects of non-compliance represent a major risk, both in form of legal and financial consequences and in damaged reputation, and this has contributed to development in the field. An extensive discussion of this is not warranted in our context, but it should be mentioned that an extensive literature exists in the field. It is also true that the development of internal control system partly is driven by external expectations from authorities, media, NGO’s etc. Good examples of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility can be found on the homepages of major companies, see for example www.statoil.com.(external link)


    Brit Fløistad and Lars Lothe, 2009, Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility, CHNL.©