Corporate governance principles and codes have been developed in different countries and issued from stock exchanges, corporations, or institutional investors, with the support of governments and international organizations. As a rule, compliance with these governance recommendations is not mandated by law, although the codes linked to stock exchange listing requirements may have a coercive effect.
Companies quoted on the Toronto and London Stock Exchanges formally need not follow the recommendations of their respective national codes. However, they must disclose whether they follow the recommendations in those documents and, where not, they should provide explanations concerning divergent practices. Such disclosure requirements exert pressure on listed companies for compliance.
In contrast, the guidelines issued by associations of directors, corporate managers and individual companies tend to be wholly voluntary. For example, The GM Board Guidelines reflect the company’s efforts to improve its own governance capacity. Such documents may have a multiplying effect prompting other companies to adopt similar documents and standards of best practice. One of the most influential guidelines has been the 1999 OECD Principles of Corporate Governance revised in 2004.