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Benchmarking Greek Corporate Governance against Different Standards


*Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Macedonia, 156 Egnatia Street, Thessaloniki 540 06, Greece. E-mail; Tel: +30 (2)310 891666; Fax: +30 (2)310 891278.


The rapidly increasing worldwide focus on corporate governance has resulted in a proliferation of rating systems that proxy for governance quality. This study develops a governance rating for Greek listed companies by benchmarking their governance structures against three levels: (a) the minimum requirements under Greek regulation (lower level); (b) the incremental recommendations of the Greek code (middle level); and (c) the additional international best practices, prescribed by the UK Combined Code (higher level). Using available data on 274 out of 340 Greek listed companies in 2003 and based on information collected primarily from annual reports, we find that the average governance rating at the lower level is 65.5 per cent; this scoring reduces significantly as we move to the middle and higher level. The average governance rating is 44 per cent. Second, governance scores increase with firm size. Although there may be good reasons explaining these patterns, we find that Greek companies do not provide explanations, i.e. do not practice the “comply or explain” recommendation. Third, our middle level aggregate governance rating is much lower than that reported by prior research that uses a different data gathering and weighting approach. This divergence has important methodological implications. Finally, we document a relatively high lack of transparency in relation to Greek governance practices. This is a sign of “bad governance”.