Practical analysis for investment professionals
17 January 2013

The Best Learning Resources on Corporate Governance: Robert A. G. Monks Shares His Picks (Podcast)

Posted In: Philosophy

For whom is a corporation run? Is corporate governance a legal topic? An economic one? Or does it just boil down to ethics? CFA Institute interviewed Robert A. G. Monks, a pioneer of corporate governance, to get his picks for the best learning resources to help answer these important questions.

Monks has a long and distinguished career in corporate governance, having served in a variety of roles including investor, activist, and writer. The British newspaper the Independent, recently called him “scourge of the ‘corpocracy’,” and it’s not hard to understand why. Speaking at the CFA Institute 2010 Annual Conference, Monks told the audience how he once said to the chairman of a very large corporation that given the chairman’s economic power and low degree of accountability, a more befitting title for him was “emperor.” Monks then asked the chairman why his compensation was 16 times that of his predecessor.

In a recent interview with Monks (embedded above), we came away with a wealth of learning resources in corporate governance. Here are some of his picks:

  • Print: Monks strongly believes case studies are the best way to learn about corporate governance, and books that provide such case studies — including the one he has coauthored, Corporate Governance, which is in its fifth edition — are the ones to read. Perhaps for the same reason, Monks tends not to think very highly of journals, which generally rely more on econometrics rather than case studies to analyze corporate governance issues.
  • Websites: Monks seems to prefer the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, which he described as a “very high quality, well edited blog.” Among other websites, he also listed Corporate Governance ( as a useful resource.
  • Video: Monks has “an all-time favorite,” the 2003 documentary, The Corporation, which he described as “particularly helpful and useful.” He thinks there are a number of other good movies, including Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Too Big to Fail, and Margin Call.
  • Live, in-person education: Monks thinks “there is no shortage of programs,” such as those offered by Harvard Law School, the University of Delaware, Standford University, and Baruch College.
  • Online learning: Monks listed RI Academy, which provides structured online learning on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues; New York Institute of Finance; and Edinburgh Business School.
  • Conferences: Monks prefers the events organized by the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), a global membership organization, which features “excellent speakers.” Monks also recommends events organized by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which sometimes holds events relating to ESG issues in conjunction with ICGN. In addition to offering great content, these events are an effective way of networking with people who are at the forefront of their organizations’ efforts in the corporate governance arena.
  • Twitter: For keeping up with corporate governance happenings on Twitter, Monks suggests using #CorpGov for searching for relevant tweets. He also suggests following Simon C. Y. Wong (@SimonCYWong), a practitioner of corporate governance and visiting faculty member at London School of Economics; Nell Minow (@nminow), Monk’s business partner and coauthor; James McRitchie (@corpgovnet), the editor of; and Stephen Davis (@SMDavisCorpGov), the associate director and senior fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance.

At the end of the interview, I asked Monks to tell us what investment professionals should bear in mind as they use the learning resources recommended by him. He said that ownership of companies has become very diluted relative to the emergence of the first corporation about four centuries ago, tipping the balance of power to corporate leadership. Monks believes that “corporate governance really is about accountability” to the shareholders and to others that corporations impact, and this is what investment professionals should bear in mind.

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat, CFA, writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals;" the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice;" and the research report "Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing and Islamic Finance: Similarities and Differences." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in development economics. He has served as a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and former CEO of the Audit Oversight Board (Pakistan). His personal interests include reading and hiking.

5 thoughts on “The Best Learning Resources on Corporate Governance: Robert A. G. Monks Shares His Picks (Podcast)”

  1. I’ve received praise before: CII said my petition to the SEC on proxy access “re-energized” the debate on that subject, Lexis-Nexis subscribers said listed my site among the top 25 business blogs and the NACD put me on a list of “people to watch” for a few years. However, never have I felt so honored as when I heard Bob Monks publicly list my website ( and my twitter account (corpgovnet) among resources worth following. If I were an actor, it would be like getting acknowledgement from Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep! And to top it off, to be in such company as those other resources Bob mentions! Wow! 2013 is starting out rather nicely. I’d better ask my wife to give me a smack so my head doesn’t get too big.

    Thank you Bob and thank you Usman Hayat for asking Bob about these learning resources. I’ve got a lot of links on my blog but even after 17 years of cataloging, he named a couple new to me. I’d better redouble my efforts and add them to my list.

  2. James,

    Many thanks for your warm comment! Glad to know that the blog made your day.



  3. I look forward to more from you, Usman.

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