More Research Needed on Corporate Governance in the Middle East
More Research Needed on Corporate Governance in the Middle East
Author: Imelda Dunlop

It is striking that there is currently such a lack of available research on corporate governance issues, development and implementation in the Middle East. We are doing what we can, at the Pearl Initiative, to address this and produce more research, particularly from the perspective of shedding more light on implemented practices at the company level across the region.

I thought it would be useful, in this week’s blog, to give a snapshot of the most recent research we’re aware of that has been published on corporate governance topics in the region.

It seems that a fair amount of the regional up-to-date research that has been published over the last 3 years comes from the OECD – there are a number of insightful regionally-focused research reports all available on their website. As you would expect, OECD research tends to focus at the policy development level.

One such report that gives a useful comparison of some country-level corporate governance frameworks in the region is the “OECD Survey on Corporate Governance Frameworks in the Middle East and North Africa”, most recently published in draft form in 2011. The draft survey discloses fairly detailed survey responses from some MENA countries, and efforts are underway to increase the number of countries included in the final survey results. It covers such areas as corporate governance requirements contained in national corporate and securities legislation, regulations and voluntary codes; shareholders’ rights and voting; disclosure frameworks and reporting standards for listed companies; and Board responsibility, committees and independent director requirements.

Another recent report from the OECD, published in 2012, is “Towards New Arrangements for State Ownership in the Middle East and North Africa”. The report discusses regional priorities such as the

organisation of the ownership function and the nomination and functioning of SOE boards. It also builds on country-specific projects where the OECD’s input was welcomed, such as the support to establishing SOE corporate governance codes in particular countries.

The OECD report on the “Role of MENA Stock Exchanges in Corporate Governance”, also published in 2012, examines the role of MENA stock exchanges in corporate governance of listed companies. It summarises recent developments affecting stock exchanges in the region, highlights relevant examples of exchanges’ contribution to better governance of listed companies, and considers some ongoing challenges for exchanges and securities regulators in this regard. It was developed based on secondary research, preliminary discussions with industry participants and 8 survey responses from Arab bourses.

At the level of company practices within the region, there are two reports available that contain useful individual case studies of good corporate governance practices within the region:

1.“Corporate Governance Success Stories”, published in 2010 by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This report contains 11 company case studies from within the MENA region and clearly makes the business case for adopting good practices

2.“Advancing Corporate Governance in the Middle East and North Africa: Stories and Solutions”, published in 2011 by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Global Corporate Governance Forum. This report describes how 11 companies in the MENA region improved their corporate governance practices through a gradual process that benefited their performance and growth.

An aggregate level analysis of existing corporate Board practices, based on a survey done every 2 years, is produced by the GCC Board Directors Institute. The latest survey Embarking on a Journey: A Review of Board Effectiveness in the Gulf” was published in 2011 and covers areas such as Board composition, Directors’ accountabilities, Board processes and Board evaluation.

At the Pearl Initiative, we’re in the process of building a resource centre on our website, with links to all available research, publications and initiatives that have a MENA focus – a knowledge centre for those interested to be able to easily find useful information, analysis and editorials.

Please let us know if you are aware of any additional initiatives, research or publications that we should be including!

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