The average board of directors has nine members, and the total population of board members of public companies traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX stock exchanges is about 53,000. A USA Today analysis of corporate reports found a high degree of inter-relation:
Watchdogs point out that interlocking directorates may cause conflicts of interest, poor governance and poor compensation decisions, a lack of fresh perspective, and the concentration of corporate power into a single extended social network. CEO interlocks are seen as a particular concern for potential conflicts of interest. Proving direct harm to stockholders is difficult, though, because there is no clear definition of how much overlap is acceptable, and in any case board members are selected by stockholders' votes.