Research Paper in Focus

Mapping of Islamic Corporate Governance Research: A Bibliometric Analysis

Paper Title: Mapping of Islamic Corporate Governance Research: A Bibliometric Analysis

Author:        Reza Widhar Pahlevi

Publisher:    Journal of Islamic Accounting and Business Research, 14(4), 538 – 553.

Author argues in the paper that the principles of good corporate governance (GCG) in Islam are more stakeholder oriented than shareholder oriented. It implies that maximizing shareholder wealth is one goal among the many for the corporation in Islamic perspective. It shall fulfil responsibilities towards other stakeholders including internal and external stakeholders.

However, the author also notes that the reality of governance practices in firms may differ from the ideal perspective. World Bank’s enterprise survey of firms in Muslim majority countries does not paint a very pleasant picture. A study with the title “Governance–Development Nexus in the OIC Countries” highlighted the need for reforms in the quality of institutions, establishing rule of law, emphasising on governance in the policy agenda and bringing strong accountability mechanisms.

In this paper, the author gives a review of literature on Islamic corporate governance. Studies had focused on explaining Islamic corporate governance attributes, empirical performance of Islamic institutions, especially Islamic financial institutions on corporate governance and the link between good corporate governance and profitability. Some researches enhance the scope of corporate governance to embed Shari’ah governance as part of corporate governance.

Nonetheless, it is a concern that recent trend of bibliometric analysis of literature with the aid of software yields rather opaque results in terms of analytical insights from the research works. The main conclusions, insights and discussion points need to be properly discussed. One dilemma with such bibliometric analysis is that the researcher just hands over all work on deriving analytical insights to the software.

Identification of themes based on keywords usually yield commonplace keywords such as Islamic finance, Islamic banking, Islamic financial institutions, performance etc. Authors attempting to conduct systematic literature reviews need to actually read the works in depth.

In serious academic bibliometric reviews, more effort is involved. Unfortunately, the recent fad in Islamic finance research is to just conduct a bibliometric analysis of few dozen papers in ISI and Scopus. Not only the authors miss out relevant works in other languages, such as Arabic, Urdu, Bahasa Indonesia, and Turkish, but also the literature which is not yet indexed in Scopus and ISI due to language limitations.

By analysing few dozen researches even while not reading them thoroughly, use of software tool not only creates awkwardness for the field but also for the technology which needs to be used judiciously for it to be useful.   

Fundamental research area in corporate governance is how to manage agency problem, tackle moral hazard and devise incentives and covenants to enable effective corporate governance. While there is literature on that in Islamic finance, this paper by relying on fixed keyword searches misses out the most important issue and research area in this domain.

In Islamic economics literature, reviews by Prof. Dr. Nejatullah Siddiqi, Prof. Dr. Abdul Azim Islahi, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Akram Khan and Prof. Dr. Asad Zaman had been very useful in getting an introduction of the field of Islamic economics and finance and key insights. None of them used or completely relied on keyword search using a narrow online database. Since they have read the works they were reviewing, they were able to provide a very good synthesis and summary.

It is unfortunate that the recent trend of bibliometric analysis yields opaque and superfluous themes with no major insights on the literature reviewed through relying on software generated themes alone. It is hoped that serious researchers and journal editors guide the budding researchers to not take technology shortcuts. Presenting the review of literature is like presenting the face of edifice of body of knowledge in Islamic finance. But, if it does not result in yielding useful insights from such a review other than knowing the citation network, origin of works (university-wise or region-wise), year-wise publication counts and names of most publishing authors, then this is not a very good representation of Islamic economics and finance literature.

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