Board Influence and Interaction with University Management

Niels Ejersbo, Carsten Greve

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Many public sector institutions have over the past decade been through reforms of their governance structure. A common feature of these reforms has been an introduction of boards (Hinna, De Nito & Mangia 2010). The introduction of boards is inspired by the governance structure in private companies, where the board of directors is an intermediary between the firm’s stakeholders and its top management team (Thomsen & Conyon 2012: 142). In a public sector setting the boards are intermediary between the political level (the relevant ministry) and the management of the public institution. The boards have several roles such as controlling and holding the management accountable, giving advice, acting as representatives or as contact to networks and external actors (Van den Berghe & Levrau 2004; McNulty & Pettigrew 1999; Cornforth 2003). However, we have little knowledge about how the board interacts with other internal actors and how the board influences different levels of the organization. Part of the literature on boards also questions the influence of boards and argues that they are no more than “rubber stamps” (Farrell 2005: 93). Most of the literature and studies on boards concerns private companies, but with an increased use of boards in public sector institutions, we lack knowledge about the functioning and interaction of boards in the public sector. Based on a behavioral approach, this chapter will give new knowledge about the interaction between boards and management at different levels of the organization by addressing the following research questions: How influential are boards? and How do boards interact with management?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoverning the Reformed University
EditorsNiels Ejersbo, Carsten Greve, Signe Pihl-Thingvad
Number of pages14
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9781138068421
ISBN (Electronic)9781315157979
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesRoutledge Critical Studies in Public Management

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