Corporate governance in Europe: current status and future trends

Catherine Albert‐Roulhac (Consultant and marketing manager for the Heidrick & Struggles European board practice. She coordinates studies on boards of directors in France and Europe, and focuses on searches for non‐executive boards. She is a graduate of the Institut d'Etudes Politiques and the University of Kent, with a Master's degree and Doctoral degree in political science from the London School of Economics.)
Peter Breen (Senior partner with Heidrick & Struggles and chairman of the company's Global Partnership Council. Having specialized in the technology industry early in his search career, today he is a member of the company's board practices in the UK and Europe, focused on executive and non‐executive positions. He earned a Bachelor's degree in law from Southampton University.)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Publication date: 1 December 2005



To provide a comprehensive overview of corporate governance practices in the top listed companies in ten European countries.


Presents comparative empirical research based on public data from public companies. This survey has been published biennially ever since 1999. We selected the top companies by market capitalization from national indexes (e.g. CAC 40, DAX 30). Each of the 294 companies was rated individually in order to produce a country average, from which we generate a European average. The weighted rating criteria as the same as in our 3 previous surveys, and take into account the working and composition of the board, and disclosure levels.


The study shows significant progress and more convergence in corporate governance practices. The best‐performing countries in the three previous surveys – the UK, the Netherlands and France – are still at the top, and there is a reduced variance within countries. Boards also continue to work harder, partly explaining the rise in Directors' compensation. Committees are almost universal, although their composition could be improved. Boards are gradually becoming more independent but remain more domestic than the companies themselves. International directors (16 percent) and women directors (now 7 percent) are still not enough in evidence. More progress in corporate governance practices can be expected in the future as we can expect an even greater convergence of board practices between and within European countries.


This study is unique as it provides a reliable comparative picture of board practices across ten European countries and ever since 1999, with the comments of local experts of corporate governance in each market.



Albert‐Roulhac, C. and Breen, P. (2005), "Corporate governance in Europe: current status and future trends", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 19-29.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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