A survey of company directors in the USA found that they were confused about their role, dependent on a company's chief executive for information, and crippled by social conventions inhibiting probing inquiry. Outside directors seldom exercise control over a company's management until a crisis strikes and then they are often paralyzed by indecision. A principal reason for not challenging a company's chief executive is that so many of the directors are themselves chief executives (63% of all outside directors of the Fortune list of 1,000 largest American companies are chief executives of other companies). Directors are further inhibited from fulfilling their responsibilities by lack of time and resources, since the average outside director only spends 14 days per year with the company.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.