Board structures and board behaviour: A cross-country comparison of privatly held SMEs in Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway

W. Voordeckers, A.E.J. van Gils, J. Gabrielsson, D. Politis, M. Huse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-219
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Business Governance and Ethics
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2014

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