South African corporate ethics codes: establishment and communication

Mornay Roberts-Lombard, Mercy Mpinganjira, Greg Wood, Göran Svensson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is on the top 500 companies in South Africa (as per the TopCo, 2014 list) that have a code of ethics, to see the current state of development in this area after 20 years of focus by the government and business on making corporate South Africa a more ethical environment, in which to conduct business. Design/methodology/approach: A structured questionnaire survey method was used to gather the data and it was directed to the company secretaries of these top 500 companies. Findings: Many companies in South Africa have a well-established set of protocols to enact the ethos of their code of ethics, indicating that they are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits to them of having a code. South African companies are, therefore, implementing both a code of ethics and strategies that contribute to creating an ethical corporate culture. Research limitations/implications: This study provides an opportunity to further research assessing and comparing other companies in non-Western and emerging economies. Practical implications: After 20 years of endeavours by business people and lawmakers to improve the ethical framework of South African business, there is still plenty of work to be done, as so many top companies do not appear to have a code of ethics. Originality/value: There have been limited studies in the area of business ethics in South African companies. This study is the first of its kind in the South African context and establishes the current practice 20 years after the King I report.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-396
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019


  • Codes of ethics
  • Corporate South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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