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Leaders of businesses large and small have committed acts that can be considered evil time and time again, but only a handful of them have gained the notoriety their crimes deserve.

Interest in the corporate governance practices of modern corporations, particularly in relation to accountability, increased following the high-profile collapses of a number of large corporations during 2001–2002, most of which involved accounting fraud; and then again after the recent financial crisis in 2008. In contemporary business corporations, the main external stakeholder groups are shareholders, debtholders, trade creditors and suppliers, customers, and communities affected by the corporation's activities.

Corporate scandals of various forms have maintained public and political interest in the regulation of corporate governance. Internal stakeholders are the board of directors, executives, and other employees.

Much of the contemporary interest in corporate governance is concerned with mitigation of the conflicts of interests between stakeholders.

In large firms where there is a separation of ownership and management and no controlling shareholder, the principal–agent issue arises between upper-management (the "agent") which may have very different interests, and by definition considerably more information, than shareholders (the "principals").

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