Governance of Professional Associations: Theory & Practice [digital]

Governance of Professional Associations: Theory & Practice [digital]
Andy Friedman and Jane Mason (2003/06)

PARN’s third book in the series on the governance of professional associations builds on previous editions’ theories and concepts.

It provides a guide to common problems, pitfalls and pathways for professional associations seeking to facilitate appropriate changes to their governance arrangements. This edition is based on PARN’s experience of working with professional associations to review and advise on governance structures and functions, and thus moves towards putting theory into practice.

Each chapter is presented in digestible bite sized chunks, with an outline of governance and several different theoretical approaches, and a focus primarily on the challenges experienced by organisations in initiating and implementing changes to governance. The first chapters look at the different ways in which the six theories of corporate governance can be applied to professional associations. A contingency theory of professional association governance is presented, which demonstrates that governance arrangements need to reflect the circumstances professional associations in different sectors find themselves – one size does not fit all.

This section includes another look at PARN’s ‘Cupped Hands Model,’ which offers a way of rethinking the structure of the governing body and roles of the Council and the Executive board. The model has informed PARN’s work with several professional associations on their governance procedures, but its application was directed in different ways, emphasizing the flexibility of the model in tailoring it to the needs of the organisation. The thorough review of various theory presents useful insights into the complexity of governance and aims to encourage the reader to consider their own situation in relation to the higher purpose and broader context.

Building on this, subsequent chapters identify the difficulties in designing appropriate structures and roles for those involved in governance. The final chapters tackle the problems with governance change and explore ways to gain support for implementation of those changes. The reader will take heart in finding that issues they face in attempting to make changes are not unusual, and have been tackled successfully by others. However, if you are expecting to find a quick and easy solution to the “turkeys voting for Christmas” dilemma, you may be disappointed.

The theories and ideas expounded in this edition are a step towards bridging the gap between theory and practice. It is an excellent guide for professional associations considering revision of their governance, and considers common problems, triggers for change and finally offers tips to support change.

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