Purpose – In Central Eastern Europe (CEE) the transition to market democracy significantly influenced the emerging corporate governance practice. The region, however, demonstrates much more diversity in corporate governance than expected in generally similar transition economies and the variables and their impacts only partially overlap with the variables of corporate governance in other regions. This research aims to focus on how to help discover and explain these similarities and differences.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper is a review of the secondary literature. The review is carried out with the intention of providing an opportunity to map out new terrains or provide critiques of the direction of a research field. The majority of literature reviewed in the paper is published in refereed journals, but other resources like book chapters, conference papers, reports and in certain cases unpublished materials are added. The paper discusses the key topics and variables according to the requirements of a holistic approach to corporate governance.
Findings – The review of available literature indicates that much work has been done on a significant set of variables of corporate governance, both in the domestic (privatization and the legal environment primarily, institutions and market conditions secondarily) and the international (impact of foreign direct investment, European Union directives and expectations, globalization and global institutions like OECD and the WB) context, but this body of research has not been discussed comparatively, within the context of a holistic model. Existing literature in the first two decades after transition has devoted less attention to issues of hierarchy and institutions of corporate governance, although they have relevance to better understand the impact of the macro-level factors on corporate governance practices and their differences in the region. The paper has indicated the importance of a systematic review of macro-level factors, both internal and external from a national perspective, influencing corporate governance practices.
Research limitations/implications – A systematic review of the variables of corporate governance in CEE has been missing to date and the theoretical framework adequate for pursuing such research is emerging only recently. The further elaboration and application of a holistic approach is necessary to analyze the numerous aspects that influence and shape corporate governance structures and practices in transition economies and to understand the differences that prevail even after two decades of transition to market democracy.
Originality/value – The paper provides a comprehensive review of the literature on corporate governance practices and the factors influencing the emergence and impact of those codes in CEE. It argues for a holistic approach not applied before in the research of corporate governance in transition economies; and discusses the role of external and domestic macro-level factors in explaining the differences in the emerging national practices. It emphasizes the importance of the holistic analysis in future research.