Governance is seen differently by Directors and Managers

A survey undertaken as part of our work developing a paper on ‘project governance’ highlights a distinct difference between the views held by managers and directors. To gather data, we ran a short survey between 23rd January and 9th February 2013 on four closed Linked-In groups; two of the groups were for project management association members, two for company directors. In all cases you had to be a member of the association to be a member of the group ensuring the sample communities were quite distinct.

The survey question was:
Who is responsible for the governance of an organisation? This poll is focused on governing, rather than implementing policy unless you feel implementation of policy is itself a governance function.

The four options included in the survey were:
– The Board of Directors or equivalent:
– The Directors plus Senior Executives:
– The Senior Management group:
– All managers in governance roles eg PCBs: (project control boards)

Whilst the total number of responses were low a significant difference of views emerged between the two communities.

The overwhelming majority of directors, 86% see governance as the exclusive responsibility of the Board of Directors or its equivalent.

Whereas more than 70% of the project managers see ‘governance’ as the responsibility of either ‘The Directors plus Senior Executives’ or ‘The Senior Management group’ and less then 30% agree with the proposition that governance is the exclusive responsibility of the Board of Directors or their equivalent.

Whilst it would be useful to validate these findings with a larger sample, the stark difference between the two communities is consistent with our observations and other anecdotal evidence. The project management community perspective that ‘governance’ is a management function is simply not supported by other managers and directors.

We have been advocating for several years that:
“Governance” is what a “governing body” does. It might be a geo-political entity (nation-state), a corporate entity (business entity), a socio-political entity (chiefdom, tribe, family etc.), or any number of different kinds of governing bodies, but governance is the way rules are set and implemented.
It is encouraging to see the directors of our businesses have a similar view.

The damage caused by the project management communities’ view of governance is set out in a letter-to-the-editor published in this months PM World Journal, see:

For more papers on this subject see:


One response to “Governance is seen differently by Directors and Managers

  1. Organisational Governance and Project Governance are two related but different animals. You can’t blame project managers for SOX.

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