Abstract

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

January 30, 2009


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. Our evidence is consistent with isomorphic pressures on smaller firms to conform.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

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

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Date posted: August 27, 2008 ; Last revised: May 14, 2014

Suggested Citation

Forster, Margaret and Loughran, Tim and McDonald, Bill, Commonality in Codes of Ethics (January 30, 2009). 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 )
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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