Title: Board structures and board behaviour: a cross-country comparison of privately held SMEs in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway

Authors: Wim Voordeckers; Anita Van Gils; Jonas Gabrielsson; Diamanto Politis; Morten Huse

Addresses: Hasselt University, KIZOK, Martelarenlaan 42, BE 3500 Hasselt, Belgium ' Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands ' Lund University, P.O. Box 118, 221 00 Lund, Sweden; Halmstad University, P.O. Box 823, Halmstad, Sweden ' Lund University, P.O. Box 118, 221 00 Lund, Sweden ' University of Witten/Herdecke, Reinhard Mohn Chair, Alfred Herrhausen Strasse 50, 58448 Witten, Germany; Department of Communication and Culture, Norwegian School of Management BI, 0442 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: In this study, we examine and compare formal board structures and actual board behaviour in privately held SMEs. We integrate and build on ideas from institutional theory and the behavioural theory of the firm to propose that privately held firms have specific governance needs that 'decouple' formal board structures from actual board behaviour. Following this logic, we expect board structures to vary across countries while board behaviour does not. We test this in a cross-country sample of SMEs in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. The empirical results support the proposition that board structures are largely decoupled from actual board behaviour in privately held SMEs. Overall, the findings imply that it is possible to coordinate and disseminate board development research and practice across countries despite national differences in formal board structures.

Keywords: board structures; board behaviour; cross-country corporate governance; Belgium; The Netherlands; Norway; SMEs; small and medium-sized enterprises; institutional theory; behavioural theory of the firm; board of directors; national differences.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBGE.2014.063279

International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, 2014 Vol.9 No.2, pp.197 - 219

Published online: 31 Mar 2015 *

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