Corporate Codes of Ethics - The How Factor

Keywords: Global corporate codes of ethics, participatory method, Code of Ethics development process, ethics in transnational companies, action research


Although recognized as a key factor for its effectiveness, the adopted process for the development of a global corporate code of ethics, is one of the least documented aspects by Academia.

The code is often created at central level and then sent for adoption and implementation to the different branches within the organisation, and the fact that they are not involved in the development process, frequently elicits resistance and compromises effectiveness.

This was initially the case with the company of this study, where it was found that business units from different geographical locations had gradually made adaptations to the original code of the Group, which no longer remained the same across countries, neither in text nor in form, which led to the code review.

Developed through an action-research methodology, this case study describes the review process which included 30 people from all the Group companies. All defined goals have been achieved. The different companies’ representatives consider that the participatory methodology was a key-factor to the general acceptance of the produced document. Three years after the code release, its efficacy was also evaluated with the Ethics Ombudsman who presented possible success indicators.


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How to Cite
Roque, A., & Figueiredo, J. (2021). Corporate Codes of Ethics - The How Factor. Harvard Deusto Business Research, 10(1), 156-175.