Andrew Brown, the deputy chair of Charity Trustee Networks and a past chair of BTCV


Anyone interested in understanding more about the problems facing boards should read this book. With 13 research-based essays on issues of governance, it spells out what the difficulties are and where we are in the search for solutions.

The essays are divided into four areas: who governs; what do boards do; roles, relationships and power; and continuity and change.

This is not a how-to-do-it book but it has some fascinating insights into why so many charities have difficulty with governance. It pinpoints the conflicts for boards which want to be effective and representational, or want to develop new strategy and comply with regulatory demands. It explores the pressures which make so many board relationships fraught.

The essays on the public sector and comparisons with commerce make it clear that they have similar difficulties. The problems with boards are universal and are rooted in the inherent conflicts of their role and the dearth of governance models which work. The Charity Commission's ideas on governance are given short shrift.

Chris Cornforth's introduction and closing essay tie the essays together.

He recognises the inadequacy of academic theories of governance and the resultant flaws in much governance advice.

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