Is It a Conflict of Interest to Be CEO and Chairman of the Board?

Why don't we consider it a conflict of interest for one person to serve as a company's CEO and chairman of the board? —Carole Mcintyre, Waynesburg, PA.

The CEO manages the company, while the board oversees the management. So, effectively, chair-CEOs must monitor themselves. But the benefits of a combined position outweigh the conflict, says Charles Elson, director of the Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. While controversial, the combined chair-CEO model—used by the vast majority of U.S. companies—helps avoid employee confusion about who's ultimately in charge. —Sally Atkinson