Problem Boards or Board Problem?

This 2003 article published in the Nonprofit Quarterly worries that underperforming boards are the norm, not the exception:

The past … years have seen the steady growth of training programs, consulting practices, academic research, and guidebooks aimed at improving the performance of nonprofit boards. This development reflects both hopes and doubts about the nonprofit board. On the one hand, boards are touted as a decisive force for ensuring the accountability of nonprofit organizations. On the other hand, the board is widely regarded as a problematic institution. And it’s not just the occasional nonprofit financial implosion or scandal that’s troubling. All institutions, after all, have their failures.


Through dialogue with practitioners, a review of the literature on nonprofit governance, and the application of various intellectual frameworks (from organizational behavior to sociology), we have begun to see the cottage industry of board improvement in a new light. Most importantly, we have concluded that we have been working on the wrong problem.

Read the article.