Governance, Ownership and Control

  • Colin Rochester


This is the first of five chapters that aim to provide a critique of and an alternative perspective on some of the key elements of the current understanding of the nature of voluntary action. It begins by revisiting some of the substantial body of academic and practitioner literature on governance and governing bodies in voluntary organisations and suggesting that its focus on ‘what do boards do?’ (Cornforth, 2003) diverts attention from the deeper issues of ownership and control that underlie arrangements for governance. The chapter goes on to explore the implications of Selznick’s (1992: 290) argument that ‘to govern is to accept responsibility for the whole life of the institution’ and that ‘governance takes account of all the interests that affect the viability, competence and moral character of an enterprise’. Such a responsibility, it suggests, is not borne by the members of the board alone; it is shared with a range of actors who may include present or past members of staff, volunteers, service users, supporters and other interested parties. Each organisation will have its own constellation of what Harris (1996) has called the ‘Guardians’ — the people who care whether the organisation lives or dies.


Board Member Stakeholder Theory Moral Character Governing Body Voluntary Organisation 
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Copyright information

© Colin Rochester 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin Rochester
    • 1
  1. 1.BirkbeckUniversity of LondonUK

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