State-owned enterprise governance in the Pacific: The application of local values and practices in Samoa and Tonga
This research examined how state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in two Pacific countries approach their governance roles in a context where concepts of good corporate governance are changing internationally. The research considered whether corporate governance practice can be enhanced by the application of local cultural values and principles, and whether there are lessons learned from these two countries that could be shared more broadly.
The study explored insights from current and former SOE board chairs, directors, CEOs, senior public officials from the Kingdom of Tonga (Tonga) and the Independent State of Samoa (Samoa), and subject matter experts, who discussed their experiences and insights about approaches to corporate governance. The research also examined the literature on the rationale for the concept of ‘good governance’ which emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century, and corporate governance principles that support SOE models, to provide context for participant responses.
Twenty-six interviews were undertaken in Tonga and Samoa between July and September 2019. Twelve participants were interviewed about Tonga’s SOEs, 12 participants were interviewed about Samoa’s SOEs, and two participants were interviewed about both countries’ approaches to SOE governance.
The research finds that the principles of good corporate governance are dynamic and responsive, and can be modified to fit local situations. Despite the challenges implementing corporate governance principles, SOE directors and officials from Tonga and Samoa are asking how these tools can be applied in their country and are actively adapting and innovating the corporate governance model to improve local application. There are important assertive signs of ambiculturalism reshaping the good governance narrative with a Pacific flavour.