Denis Mowbray (New Zealand) reported the results of his research into perceptions of the board's effectiveness and its influence on organisational performance. He surveyed the directors and executives, and analysed the financial performance, of publicly-listed companies in Australia and New Zealand; and he analysed the data using something called fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). This tool is useful for understanding the influence of particular variables and attributes being investigated.
Mowbray's noted—correctly—that because boards are constructions of people and that effectiveness is likely to be dependent on how well directors and managers work together. Important elements appear to include intellectual capital, team effectiveness, knowledge sourcing and the leader-manager exchange. However, there is a distinct lack of evidence supporting how boards exert influence, even though effectiveness appears to be dependent on the board exercising control and service tasks. High levels of synergy, trust and confidence—between the board and the managers—also appear to be important. Notwithstanding these observations, the perception of the board's effectiveness appears to be related, in some way, on the current performance of the company being governed:
Mowbray's insight was interesting, in that it identified an interesting disparity between the board's perception of its own effectiveness, and the executive's perception of board effectiveness, when company performance is poor. However, while some contributing factors were identified, no suggestions as to why the disparate views exist were proffered. The subject of Mowbray's work is important to our understanding of how boards contribute. I hope he and others pick up on the good start made by this paper, because we need to understand how if and how boards can actually influence the achievement of company performance outcomes.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.