Exploring Corporate Governance Structures and Practices in Jamaica: Towards Policy Reform

  • Vindel Kerr

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


This study explores corporate governance (CG) structures and practices in Jamaica to fill theoretical, practical and public policy gaps. The study is organized into four parts and nine chapters. Part one is an introduction to the thesis and the contextual setting. Part two explores the theoretical and methodological framework via an in-depth review of the social science literature on CG and sets out the research strategy and methodology. Part three analyses and discusses the findings from the fieldwork, and part four examines gaps, proposes recommendations for reform, discusses conclusions, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research. The study assumes a two-fold hypothesis of a CG problem and public policy problem. The CG problem is characterised by a dearth of empirical literature, a lack of CG awareness, and inadequate and poor CG practices among public bodies. The public policy problem is defined by a weak regulatory framework, systemic weaknesses in the financial sector, and pervasive corporate and political corruption. In seeking solution to the problems under review, the study adapts the interviewer's administered survey method supported by three in-depth case studies and two focus groups. The views of about 100 respondents were sought and an additional unspecified number of informal informants. This multi-technique approach ensured that the weaknesses of a given technique were compensated for by the counterbalancing strengths of other techniques. The key themes of focus were regulation, corruption, ownership and control, stakeholder relations, perceptions and role of institutional investors, board characteristics and processes and the board's role in strategic decision-making and corporate disclosures. The findings revealed that while Jamaica has implemented several laws and regulations, there are still gaps in coverage, content and effectiveness of implementation. Corruption is still rampant in spite of evidence of a reduction since 2006 (TI 2008 Report). Ownership and control of Jamaican firms are highly concentrated and mainly by oligarchic groups giving way to such problems as an under-developed new issues market, a high degree of insider boards, inadequate minority protection, poor information disclosure, and incentives are aligned to dominant shareholders. There is a lack of representation and voice of employee and trade union representatives in the Jamaican boardrooms and institutional investors (II), while controlling approximately 75% of listed companies, are not interested in promoting CG reform over and above the extent to which such efforts would redound to their self-interest. IIs play influential roles in financing Jamaican politics and control large distribution channels, and determine who gets large private sector contracts. While much is being done internationally to achieve gender balance in the boardroom, the mean number of females on Jamaican corporate boards is 1.8 (or 19.8%) with an average board size of 9.1 Directors. Cross-tabulation analyses were conducted and tests for relationships between and within groups of key variables (board size, Chair/CEO duality, NEDs vs. EDs, number of female Directors with listed and unlisted firms and dominant ownership dispersed vs. closely held) and nothing of significance was found. The study has concluded that reform is needed in several areas. These include increase of coverage and content of legislation and enforcement mechanisms to improve CG and fight corruption; reform of corporate boards - director selection and appointments, board's role and conduct of Directors, training and board performance evaluation. Future research is directed at more emphasis on CG in developing countries, SMEs, public bodies and non-profit organizations, the role and contribution of employees and trade unions, the board's role in influencing strategy, and the role of risk management. The study seeks to contribute to the growing body of international literature
Date of Award31 Dec 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJeffrey Henderson (Supervisor)


  • Corporate Governance, Regulation, Corruption, Ownership & Control, Board, Stakeholders, Disclosure, Reform

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