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Governance, accountability and the role of public sector boards

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For many public organisations, boards are the primary accountability mechanisms for management. Boards have a multipronged portfolio: strategic advice, employment, external linkage and critical scrutiny. The literature casts serious doubts about their capabilities. There is ‘managerial dominance’. This article reviews existing studies on public sector boards and identifies important reasons why boards are likely to fail as accountability mechanisms. This sets the stage for a new research agenda. When are boards more effective on the micro-level? How to organise effective checks and balances around organisations? And why has the board-model become so popular: is this learning or blame-shifting?
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Keywords: accountability; governance; public sector boards; quangos

Affiliations: Utrecht University, Netherlands

Appeared or available online: 10 July 2018

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