Over the last 5 years, companies like Lehman Brothers, Countrywide, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Apple, News Corp., Yahoo!, and Hewlett-Packard have collectively made as many headlines associated with corporate governance as they have for their underlying businesses. Every step and misstep of these boards are dissected and debated by investors large and small, media, regulators, directors, and academics. Much has been said and written on the subject, and the attention will continue unabated inasmuch as the stakes are high. Interestingly, though, virtually nothing is said or written about corporate governance in a very different subset of companies—one where the stakes are even higher.

With all the emphasis upon well-known large-cap ...

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