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MACC 5P61: Corporate Governance

A brief guide to researching corporate governance issues.

How do I know if a Company is Public or Private?

For Global Companies (located anywhere in the world):

  • Option 1: Use the Company search feature in Nexis Uni.
    • The Company Snapshot indicates the company type (Public or Private).
    • If the company is Private, look at the Business Description portion of the Snapshot as it will often include a brief statement on ownership.
  • Option 2: Use the Company search feature in Mergent Online.
    • The USA Company Database includes companies publicly traded on US exchanges
    • The International Company Database includes companies publicly traded on International exchanges
    • The Private Company Database includes privately owned companies in the US and Canada.
    • The D&B 20 Million Plus Private Company Search includes international privately owned companies.
  • Option 3: Use the Company search feature in Mergent Intellect.
    • The Company Overview indicates the company type (Public or Private).
  • Option 4: Search the Company Profiles in S&P Capital IQ.
    • The company status (Public or Private) is noted at the top of the profile.

How do I Find Annual Reports for Public Companies?

Public companies are companies that issue shares and are traded on a stock exchange such as the Toronto Stock Exchange.

  • Annual reports, quarterly reports, proxy circulars, and other securities filings for public companies are usually posted on a company's web site in an area labeled "Investor Relations".
  • For a good example, see Apple's Investor Relations site.  However, companies usually only archive the most recent few years of their reports.
  • If you require access to older filings and other historical financial statement data, you should consult one of the following sources:

Open Access Sources

Library Databases

How to research public companies on Edgar

The following guide provides additional information on researching US public companies via annual reports, financial statements, management information circulars and other securities filings:

How do I research Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)?

U.S. IPO Data Sources:

How do I research Corporate Bankruptcies?

Audit, compensation, & ownership data sources

Best Bet!

Other Sources:

How do I find listings of family firms?

Family businesses can be difficult to identify as most company directories and databases do not categorize companies by this characteristic. Therefore, you must rely on independent lists (typically produced as part of a larger research project) such as the ones listed below:

How do I Find Proxy Circulars?

Most Management Proxy Circulars contain brief biographies of individuals nominated for positions on the Board of Directors. Current proxy circulars are usually available on company websites (look for the Investor Relations area). Older documents for companies may be found on official sites such as SEDAR or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

How do I Find Biographies of Directors or Executives?

Consult the following sources to identify & obtain biographical information for individual board members or for key executives.

ESG / Sustainability Data Sources

Library Databases:

Other Sources:

How do I find corporate sustainability disclosure reports?

ESG, Sustainability,  and other voluntary disclosures, data, and reports may be posted in the "Investor Relations" section of a public company's web site. 

How do I find Canadian securities law?

Relevant securities and corporate governance-related laws, rules, or regulations for public companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange can be found using these sources:

How do I find United States securities law?

Relevant securities and corporate governance-related laws, rules, and regulations for public companies listed on a U.S. stock exchange such as NASDAQ or the NYSE can be found using these sources:

How do I find CG policies or best practices?

Most public companies have information about their corporate governance policies and guidelines in the Investor Relations area of their corporate websites. A number of organizations have developed policies and best practices documents on various issues related to corporate governance such as director compensation and proxy circular disclosure, and links to some of these documents appear below:



Key Background Sources on Governance Topics

How to find ebooks & book chapters on CG Topics in Omni

Omni is your key research tool for finding online books and book chapters on Corporate Governance and related topics. There are two options:

  • Option One: Use the Advanced Search to search for your terms in Any Field. For example: Any Field contains Corporate Governance and Any field contains ESG will retrieve items with all these terms anywhere in the Omni record. 

Search Strategy for Corporate Governance and ESG


CG and ESG search filters exampleYou can limit the results by Availability to Available Online and by Resource Type to Books & eBooks and Book Chapters using the filters on the left side of the screen beside the result list. 

CG and ESG results for ebooks and book chapters






  • Option Two: Use the Advanced Search to search for one or both of your terms in the Subject field.  For example: Subject contains Corporate Governance AND Any field contains ESG.

Omni subject search example

Here are a few examples of book chapters in the results list:

CG and ESG book chapters

How to find journal articles about CG topics in the Brock Library

  • Brock Library's two main business article databases, Business Premium Collection (which includes ABI/Inform Global) and Business Source Complete, are your key research tools for finding journal articles on Corporate Governance and related topics.  
  • Both of these databases have a Thesaurus of subject headings. Each entry shows a scope note (definition) as well as related terms (synonyms or related topics). Some entries will also show broader terms and narrower terms. 
    • Figure 1 shows the thesaurus entry for Corporate Governance from the ABI/Inform Global Thesaurus (also referred to as the ProQuest Thesaurus).
    • Figure 2 shows the thesaurus entry for Corporate Governance from the Business Source Complete Thesaurus. 


ABI/Inform Global Thesaurus exampleBusiness Source Complete Thesaurus Example

Finding Academic Research

Finding academic research is an iterative process.