Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 134, Issue 3, pp 397–412 | Cite as

A Study of Codes of Ethics for Mexican Microfinance Institutions

  • Lauren Kleynjans
  • Marek Hudon


Most scholarly interest in codes of ethics or conduct has focused on traditional companies. Little is known about the codes of social enterprises or hybrid organizations such as microfinance institutions (MFIs). Our paper provides a comparative case study of the codes of a Mexican microfinance network and seven MFIs. Using the corporate integrity model, we analyze the content of MFIs’ codes compared to those of traditional organizations. We then examine to what extent some specific features of MFIs such as their mission, target group, and applied credit methodologies, are factors that determine the content of their code. We find that MFIs’ codes, like those of traditional companies, include traditional stakeholder principles. Nevertheless, they put greater emphasis on ‘socially-oriented’ principles or on terms such as ‘people’ and ‘common good’. MFIs’ codes differ with respect to the items they include and exclude and the size of the covered sections. We also find that these codes attempt to address prevailing concerns in microfinance but rarely tackle two critical debates, namely levels of interest rates and of profitability. We finally argue that it is difficult to move toward a global code, owing to regional disparities and the variety of organizational models and missions.


Codes of ethics Codes of conduct Microfinance Social enterprise Hybrid organization Mexico Compartamos 



We thank Boudewijn de Bruin, Carine Roenen Laroche, Compartamos Banco, Elisabeth Johnson, José Roberto Flores Athie, Laura Galindo, Pilar Ramirez, and Roxane Julien for the interviews. We also thank Olga Biosca for their very useful comments on a draft version of the paper. This research has been carried out by one of the authors in the framework of an “Interuniversity Attraction Pole” on social enterprise, funded by the Belgian Science Policy (SOCENT).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM), Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Centre Emile Bernheim (CEB), Centre for European Research in Microfinance (CERMi)Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM), Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B)BrusselsBelgium

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