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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1251482
 
 

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Commonality in Codes of Ethics


Margaret Forster


University of Notre Dame

Tim Loughran


University of Notre Dame

Bill McDonald


University of Notre Dame - Mendoza College of Business - Department of Finance

September 29, 2008


Abstract:     
We create a database of company codes of ethics from firms listed on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and, separately, a sample of small firms. The SEC believes that "ethics codes do, and should, vary from company to company." Using textual analysis techniques, we measure the extent of commonality across the documents. We find substantial levels of common sentences used by the firms, including a few cases where the codes of ethics are essentially identical. We consider these results in the context of legal statements versus value statements. While legal writing often mandates duplication, we argue that value-based statements should be held to a higher standard of originality.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 24

Keywords: Code of Ethics, Textual Analysis, Plagiarism, Regulation

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Date posted: August 27, 2008 ; Last revised: September 30, 2008

Suggested Citation

Forster, Margaret and Loughran, Tim and McDonald, Bill, Commonality in Codes of Ethics (September 29, 2008). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1251482 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1251482

Contact Information

Margaret Forster
University of Notre Dame ( email )
Department of Mathematics
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States
Tim Loughran (Contact Author)
University of Notre Dame ( email )
Department of Finance
245 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States
574-631-8432 (Phone)
574-631-5255 (Fax)
Bill McDonald
University of Notre Dame - Mendoza College of Business - Department of Finance ( email )
P.O. Box 399
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0399
United States
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