n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - Board member success : the development of a director competency framework

Volume 28 Number 3
  • ISSN : 1019-567X


As the custodians of corporate governance, the effectiveness of the board as a group is paramount. Traditionally, board effectiveness has been associated with formal, quantitative indicators such as compliance with explicit rules and regulations that regulate board and director conduct. This study proposes a broader conceptualisation of board effectiveness by incorporating informal, qualitative indicators of board effectiveness relating to interpersonal and group dynamics. The study also identifies context-specific director competencies that underlie these group-level indicators and delineates the specific behaviours comprising the competencies. Finally, the study explores the relationships between director competencies and board effectiveness indicators to better understand how they interact to create board member success. A qualitative research approach was used involving critical incident interviews with 22 South African current and recently retired board directors, focusing on what they deemed to be important for boards to function optimally. The competencies of taking responsibility, communicating and building relationships, and ethical conduct were found to be most prevalent. Other competencies included strategic focus, negotiating and debating, and empowering others. The study provides a rich source of information that can be used to inform the selection and development of directors, and to design group interventions to improve the functioning of boards, ultimately contributing to better corporate governance.

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