NEWS FROM THE NONPROFIT GOVERNANCE SECTION, ARNOVA
Friday, December 18, 2015
The Year in Review:
The first year of operations for the Governance Section has been busy and productive, thanks to a very active cadre of section members and volunteers. In April, the section joined with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and the Nonprofit Quarterly to sponsor “Complications and Conundrums: The New Era of Research on Nonprofit Governance and the Work of Boards,” the center’s biennial conference for researchers and practitioners on nonprofit boards and governance. Dozens of section members attended the conference, along with colleagues from the governance affinity group of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and the local chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. In August, Governance section members collaborated to deliver a pair of sessions at the annual Academy of Management conference in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Immediately prior to the ARNOVA conference, a set of section leaders joined a panel of association executives for a program on association governance that was presented by the Chicago-based firm, Association Management Center, and that attracted participants from across much of the U.S.
Section leaders arranged a very useful set of sessions and events at the 2015 Annual Research Conference of ARNOVA in Chicago. In addition to the annual section business meeting, during which William Brown of Texas A&M assumed the office of section Chair, the University of Minnesota’s Melissa Stone joined the leadership team following her election to the office of Chair-Elect and Fredrik Andersson of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is our new member-at-large. The Governance Section hosted a special section networking dinner at the Italian Village, a conference session colloquium on “One-Size-Fits-All or Differential Governance Approach: An International Exploration of the Factors that Necessitate Fine-Tuning the Nonprofit Governance Concept,” and a special post-conference symposium, “Governance Functions in Inter-Organizational and Cross-Sector Collaborations.” Details of the in-conference session and the post-conference symposium follow. All of these sessions and events were very well attended and well-received by their participants.
We were very proud to welcome a brave crowd in the early hours of Saturday morning for our in-conference session. Jurgen Willems (University of Hamburg), Elnoor Ebrahim (Harvard University) and Shariq Siddiqui (Executive Director of ARNOVA) took each their perspective on the intriguing questions: Can a one-size-fits-all governance approach be taken, or is differentiation more appropriate? And what would be major elements urging such differentiation? Scrutinizing various elements of differentiation – respectively in the Belgian context, for large international developmental NGOs, and for Muslim associations in the US – the three speakers treated the audience with challenging insights that fueled an engaging discussion among the session participants. With the standard set, the governance section committee hopes to welcome also next year many interested participants for the in-conference session to discuss a new intriguing topic.
This engaging and discussion oriented symposium considered how and when governance functions are enacted beyond the boundaries of unitary boards of directors. We examined actors, processes and questions related to logics, power, leadership, decision-making, and stakeholder engagement. The session included theoretical/conceptual approaches to the complex issue of governing and case studies that illustrate how these processes work. Despite the snow, nearly 30 individuals participated. Notes and materials, including an intriguing list of research questions, from the session will be posted online.
After a successful ARNOVA meeting the section leadership is already busy planning ahead for the 2015-2016 year. Some of the topics we plan to consider
• Improved communication with section members, this includes better utilization of ARNOVA website.
• Coordination with other association meetings such as ISTR, AOM, AAPAM, and others.
• Planning for 2016 annual meeting in DC - we hope to arrange a number of interesting sessions, before, during and after the regular conference schedule.
Please note that opportunities for section members exist to participate in planning and leadership, please let contact us if you are interested. Additionally, ideas and suggestions are always appreciated!
William Brown, Chair, Texas A&M University
Melissa Stone, Chair-Elect, University of Minnesota
Ruth Bernstein, Secretary, University of Washington Tacoma
Jurgen Willems, Treasurer, Universität Hamburg
Fredrik Andersson, Member-at-Large, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee