The influence of a board’s ethical commitment on corporate governance in enhancing a company’s corporate performance

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Financial Crime




School of Business and Law


Originally published as: Salin, A. S. A. P., Ismail, Z., Smith, M., & Nawawi, A. (2019). The influence of a board’s ethical commitment on corporate governance in enhancing a company’s corporate performance. Journal of Financial Crime, 26(2), 496-518. Original publication available here



The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between corporate governance and company performance and how a board’s ethical commitment can influence this relationship. Prior studies documented mixed evidence on the corporate governance and corporate performance relationship, which can be due to the influence of a board’s ethical commitment and will shape the corporate governance mechanism in the company and, in turn, influence performance.


This study collected data for two years, i.e. 2013 and 2014, from the biggest 500 Malaysian companies listed in the stock exchange. Corporate governance is measured based on the requirements of the Malaysian Code of Corporate Governance (MCCG), while a board’s ethical commitment is measured based on the MCCG and various international best practices. Corporate performance is measured based on return on equity, return on assets, net profit margin, market-to-book value and TobinQ.


A board’s ethical commitment was found to be significant in increasing the strength of the relationship between corporate governance and corporate performance. The findings are robust to the alternative performance measurements and lagged one-year corporate performance.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides further evidence on the importance of ethical practices to improve corporate environment and, hence, sustain a company’s performance. This study, however, was conducted on only large companies with a limited data collection period.

Practical implications

This study provides an indicator that the policymaker and regulatory authorities need to double their efforts in promoting and encouraging a board of directors to take a bold step in improving its ethical culture. Shareholders and investors need to use their power and rights to demand the company to improve their governance and ethical practices.


This study is original, as it measures a board’s ethical commitment from various sources of local and international best practices such as Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the USA. It also contributes to the literature and theoretical understanding of the interaction between a board’s ethical commitment and corporate governance on corporate performance, particularly in developing countries like Malaysia, which is scarce in the literature.