Differentiating control, monitoring and oversight: Influence of power relations on boards of directors – insights from investment fund boards

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Title: Differentiating control, monitoring and oversight: Influence of power relations on boards of directors – insights from investment fund boards
Authors: Cullen, Margaret M.
Brennan, Niamh
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/9277
Date: Oct-2017
Abstract: Purpose: Boards of directors are assumed to exercise three key accountability roles - control, monitoring and oversight roles. By researching one board type - investment fund boards - and the power relations around those boards, we show that such boards are not capable of operating the three key roles assumed of them. Design/methodology/approach: We conducted 25 in-depth interviews and a focus group session with investment fund directors applying a grounded theory methodology. Findings: Because of their unique position of power, we find that fund promoter organisations (that establish and attract investors to the funds) exercise control and monitoring roles. As a result, contrary to prior assumptions, oversight is the primary role of investment fund boards, rather than the control role or monitoring role associated with corporate boards. Our findings can be extended to other board-of-director contexts in which boards (e.g., subsidiary boards, boards of state-owned entities) have legal responsibility but limited power because of power exercised by other parties such as large shareholders. Practical implications: Shareholders and regulators generally assume boards exercise control and monitoring roles. This can lead to an expectations gap on the part of shareholders and regulators who may not consider the practical realities in which boards operate. This expectations gap compromises the very objective of governance - investor protection. Originality/value: Based on interviews with investment fund directors, we challenge the control-role theory of investment fund boards of directors. Building on our findings, and following subsequent conceptual engagement with the literature, we differentiate control, monitoring and oversight roles, terms which are often used interchangeably in prior research. We distinguish between the three terms on the basis of the level of influence implied by each.
Funding Details: University College Dublin
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Emerald
Copyright (published version): 2017 Emerald
Keywords: Board of directorsAccountabilityControlMonitoringOversightPower
DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-12-2015-2345
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Business Research Collection

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