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Culture, scale and the adaptation of good governance: Insights from SOEs in Samoa and Tonga

Elisabeth Poppelwell and John Overton

World Development Perspectives, 2022, vol. 28, issue C

Abstract: This paper examines how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in two Pacific countries approach principles and practices of governance in a context where concepts of good corporate governance are changing internationally. The research finds that corporate governance practice can be enhanced by the application of local cultural values and principles, and there are lessons from these two countries that could be shared more broadly. It largely draws on insights from interviews with current and former SOE chairs and directors, and senior government officials, from Tonga and Samoa. Although SOE boards in these two countries faced some challenges common in many parts of the world, they had to navigate particular local issues relating to cultural norms and expectations and the issue of scale. Based on findings from the interviews and drawing on Nicholson, Spiller and Pio’s research on ambiculturalism, and recent paradigm shifts in good governance thinking, this paper argues that these countries are actively adapting and innovating the corporate governance model to local social and cultural conditions. The research finds that the principles of good corporate governance can be dynamic and responsive, and they can (and should) be modified to fit local situations. These signal important assertive markers of ambiculturalism, and a reshaping of SOE governance with a Pacific flavour.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2022.100468

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