Thursday, August 5, 2010

Your nonprofit governance research questions

What are your burning questions about nonprofit boards and how they govern? What do you wish you had research to inform or support your governance efforts? How about your learning needs?

I'm in transit to Montreal this morning, headed to two events: the 2010 Academy of Management conference and the inaugural meeting of the international Study Group on Nonprofit Dynamics and Relationships. The latter brings together several of the great minds of governance scholarship and several junior scholars (yours truly included) to discuss our current work, future research agendas and potential collaborative efforts.

I may engage in scholarly research and writing, but my heart and life lie in the nonprofit field. My special concern will be twofold: the potential for whatever is studied to inform governance as it is practiced in our local boardrooms and the accessibility that places the findings into the hands of those who will most benefit from it.

So I'm wondering:

What are your nonprofit governance research questions? If you were to help us set our research agendas - individual and group - for the next two years, what questions would you have us explore?

I posed this question to Twitter and immediately received these two responses:
  • "Waiting for the research that links BoD performance to NPO outcomes"
  • "Generational succession planning"
The first contribution prompted another Twitter friend to forward a link to a journal article by one of my study group peers, Will Brown, which was heartening - and a little surprising. Academic journals are not known for being accessible or practitioner friendly. (This exchange also exemplifies why you need to be on Twitter if you're not already there: the learning never stops.)

I also posed the question to the blog Facebook page. Shortly after it appeared, a fan offered this recommendation:
  • "What works in attracting 'outsiders' or marginalized folks to board service?"
What are your burning governance questions? If you were to help us build a research agenda, what would you include on it? Share your thoughts here; I'll take them to the workshop with me.

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