Corporate Codes of Conduct

by Bernard White, B. Montgomery



The article presents a broad survey of corporate executives and a content analysis of thirty corporate codes of conduct to answer the questions related to prevalence of such codes in the U.S. business community, their prevalence according to company size and industry, variations in the procedures used in administering these codes, the topics that these codes cover, and the extent to which they are uniform or diverse in content. Three-fourths of the respondents to the survey and over 90 percent of the largest companies report having a code of conduct and suggest an evolving corporate norm, the violation of which may involve cost and risk, like, the existence of a context and purpose statement, comprehensiveness, depth and degree of detail, style, and the existence of administrative procedures. Several criteria emerged from studying the sample codes that should be useful in design or evaluation. If codes of conduct are to serve as more than documentary window dressing and play a constructive role in encouraging ethical practices by corporate employees, much remains to be learned about designing and administering them.

California Management Review

Berkeley-Haas's Premier Management Journal

Published at Berkeley Haas for more than sixty years, California Management Review seeks to share knowledge that challenges convention and shows a better way of doing business.

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