Hong Kong's code of ethics initiative : some differences between theory and practice

Robin Stanley SNELL, Neil C. HERNDON

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Although detailed studies of code adoption and impact have already been conducted in Hong Kong, there has as yet been no critical analysis of why there has been a gap between the normative and positive factors underlying codes of ethics in Hong Kong. The purpose of this paper is to consider why Hong Kong companies adopting codes of ethics have failed to adhere closely to the best practice prescriptions for code adoption when it would likely be in their best interests to do so. This paper identifies some cultural factors, such as power distance and traditional Legalist assumptions approximating "Theory X," that appear to be involved in creating this gap, and offers some practical recommendations for closing the gap, which are presented in the form of hypotheses for further testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2004

Bibliographical note

The Research Grants Council, Hong Kong, provided financial support via grant no. 9040120.
We thank the Hong Kong Ethics Development Centre for background information. We also gratefully thank Ms. Almaz M. K. Chak and Ms. Jess W. H. Chu for conducting interviews, questionnaire surveys, content analysis of written codes, and related statistical analyses


  • Code
  • Conduct
  • Consultation
  • Culture
  • Ethics
  • Hong Kong
  • Leadership


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