What is it about?

The aim of this paper is to identify some clusters of companies which represent and classify different forms of compliance with soft regulation and the comply-or-explain principle. The analysis was conducted through the administration of a structured questionnaire to a sample of compliance officers from 102 companies listed on the Italian stock market. Our results identify 3 different clusters of companies with different patterns of compliance characterised by distinct forms of regulation conformity. The first cluster of companies called "regulation adherents" favour a clear and explicit application of compliance, the second cluster called "regulation dissenters" favour the “explain” principle and show compliance values below the sample average, while the third cluster called "regulation dissenters with balanced task orientation and an independent supervisory unit" falls between the first two clusters. Our study give a contribution to corporate governance literature, with the aim to contribute both to the studies focused on the measurement of code compliance, and the studies focused on identification of different patterns of code conformity.

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Why is it important?

This paper extends the literature related to compliance and makes a relevant step towards the identification of principles and practices relating to an innovative and unique application of the anti-corruption system based on the comply-or-explain principle.


First, our study is limited to one country. So while we are confident that we have examined the Italian case well, it would be worthwhile extending the analysis across several countries, so as to compare the different ways governments are implementing soft regulation. Second, our study was based on a single time period. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the wider application of the comply-or-explain principle it would be relevant to develop longitudinal studies to analyse the responses of regulators and companies to the actions of each over time.

prof pietro previtali
university of pavia

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Patterns of compliance with soft regulation in Italian listed companies, International Journal of Disclosure and Governance, February 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1057/s41310-019-00055-z.
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