Stakeholder-rich boards 'misguided'

Boards of trustees made up largely of stakeholders are unable to function properly because they struggle to make decisions, according to the director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Julia Unwin told the Wales Council for Voluntary Action's trustee and governance conference last week that stakeholder boards were increasingly common in charities that the Government established or made appointments to.

She said such boards had legitimacy and were good debating chambers but were indecisive and tended to neglect unrepresented stakeholders.

Unwin said organisations that appointed a lot of experts to their boards, such as medical research charities, were also misguided because experts had pre-formed ideas and struggled to reach group decisions.

But boards consisting of people who represented the public interest were strong, she said: "The fashionable, world-weary pose is to talk about governance as a problem, but let's not forget the very real asset that is trusteeship."

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