This brief is part of the Insights @ Center for Emerging Markets, a publication focused on cutting edge ideas and advice for global leaders about emerging markets.

By Bassam Farah (American University of Beirut), Rida Elias (American University of Beirut), Ruth Aguilera (Northeastern University), and Elie Abi Saad (HEC Montreal)

[I]f this article could contain only one message, we would like it to be that [corporate governance] in the MENA region is quite unique and fairly different from [corporate governance] in other parts of the world.”

Corporate Governance Trends in the MENA Region

Corporate governance trends in the MENA region cannot be easily classified into the traditional stakeholder or shareholder models of governance. Their distinctive traits are due, at least in part, to the influence of Sharia law and the region's varied political regimes.

Some of these distinctive corporate governance traits include:

  • The predominance of family and state ownership
  • A slower movement towards privatization
  • Dual-board structures
  • Constrained access to financing opportunities, which stems, at least in part, to a lack of adequate investors' protections and high levels of corruption in several countries
  • Limited engagement with typical Western corporate social responsibility practices. Due to the influence of Sharia law, corporate social responsibility practices usually revolve around philanthropic activities and their disclosure is extremely low
Future Opportunities for Corporate Governance in the MENA Region

As the region looks to the future, researchers point to several areas for growth and development for the corporate governance of local companies. For instance, companies in the region would benefit from:

  • More gender diverse corporate boards
  • Increased standardization of disclosure regulations across countries
  • Greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility
  • More variety of ownership models beyond family and state ownership

Original Article

Farah, B., Elias, R., Aguilera, R., & Abi Saad, E. 2021. Corporate governance in the Middle East and North Africa: A systematic review of current trends and opportunities for future research. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 29(6): 630-660.


If you are interested in learning more about this work, contact Professor Aguilera.