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School of Business | Department of Accounting | Accounting | 2015
Thesis number: 14053
Corporate governance in Africa: Comparative study
Author: Markkanen, Sanni
Title: Corporate governance in Africa: Comparative study
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Accounting
Academic subject: Accounting
Index terms: laskentatoimi; accounting; corporate governance; corporate governance; Afrikka; Africa; arvot; values; korruptio; corruption
Pages: 105
Full text:
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Key terms: corporate governance, contingency theory, path dependency, colonialism, Africa
This thesis is a comparative study focusing on African national corporate governance codes and guidelines, with special attention given to comparing the African corporate governance codes to European colonizers' equivalent codes. The study focuses on those African countries which were under European colonial rule during the colonial period from 1881 to 1914, as during that time most of Africa was under European rule.

The study addresses whether the African countries, which currently have a corporate governance code in place, have acknowledged their specific context and environment in developing their own corporate governance codes. According to many researchers, there are no universal laws in corporate governance and the efficiency of specific corporate governance practices can vary in different contexts. Therefore, the same governance mechanisms would not work as well in less developed African countries than they would in more developed countries in Europe. For example, financial market development, legal enforcement, and ownership structures can have an effect on what corporate governance mechanisms are useful. However, the colonial history of a country can largely affect the development of institutions and legal environment in said country. Thus, it is possible that African countries would have mimicked the governance codes of their former colonizers, rather than developed codes that would suit their environment and market conditions better. In addition to the emerging market environment and colonial heritage, the study addresses whether religion, legal origin, and corruption level of a country, or the mortality rate of settlers during colonialism have an effect on the development of corporate governance codes.

We have used archival research techniques to analyse the national corporate governance codes of each country. This has enabled an analysis of multiple countries simultaneously, and also a comparative analysis of older and newer codes of the same country.

Our findings conclude that African corporate governance codes have not merely been mimicked from their colonizer's code, but rather African countries have in their codes addressed issues which are relevant for their environment, such as strong communal values and corruption. However, the codes still have room for improvement in relation to minority rights protection and in the encouragement of institutional investor participation for example. Also we find that those African countries which have a corporate governance code in place are on average less corrupt than the countries which do not have such code in place at the moment.
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