Get access

Codes of Good Governance


*Sonoco International Business Department, University of South Carolina, Moore School of Business, 1705 College Street, Room 557, Columbia, SC 29208, USA. Tel: 1-803-777-0314; Fax: 1-803-777-3609; E-mail:


Manuscript Type: Review

Research Question/Issue: We review the recent developments in the area of codes of good governance, a set of best practice recommendations regarding the behavior and structure of the board of directors.

Research Findings/Results: Our review of the literature on codes of good governance highlights their rapid spread around the world and how academic research has lagged behind in analyzing this topic. Despite the criticism that the codes' voluntary nature limits their ability to improve governance practices, codes of good governance appear to have generally improved the governance of countries that have adopted them, although there is need for additional reforms.

Theoretical Implications: Unfortunately, research on codes of good governance has developed in insolation with little cross-fertilization across the different disciplines. We propose a multi-level framework to discuss three main topics that have emerged within the codes literature: the motivations behind the diffusion of codes across countries and its implications for convergence of corporate governance practices; the content of the codes and their “comply or explain” dimension; and the relationship between code compliance and firm performance. We conclude by proposing four areas of future research.

Practitical Implications: Code development, adoption, and compliance are directly related to issues surrounding the governance of the firm, and in particular to all the interactions that a director has inside and outside the firm. Codes are regulations that emerge from policy-making negotiations between multiple stakeholders, such as the state (via the stock market regulators) and the investors.