The key factors determining board effectiveness in independent schools.
The role of boards and the topic of good governance in companies both for profit and non-profit has increased in significance in recent years. This is primarily due to the many corporate downfalls which left stakeholders questioning what boards had done wrong. South Africa in particular has introduced the new Companies Act No. 71 of 2008 and been proactive with the King Reports to legislate and guide companies into governing well. Independent schools are also governed by boards with similar attributes to corporate boards. Education plays a vital role in the future growth of any economy and therefore school boards need to be effective bodies in order to ensure the schools they govern are sustainable and able to positively contribute to the future growth of the economy. The aim of this study is to investigate the key determinants of board effectiveness in independent schools. Five components of board effectiveness were selected for study, these were board demographic composition, selection procedures, scope of decision making, competence of board members and their behavioural characteristics. Information on the sustainability of the school was also collected and used as the effectiveness measure of the board. The five key determinants were then each correlated to this final variable. A quantitative study was adopted with a sample taken from the 164 independent schools in KwaZulu-Natal. All these schools were invited to participate of which 145 board members agreed to take part. A questionnaire comprising fourteen questions was distributed via an electronic survey tool and 81 board members responded, which equalled a 73% response rate. Descriptive statistics and correlation statistical operations were used to analyse the data which revealed that the majority of boards presented the positive aspects of the components of effectiveness. Boards still showed weaknesses in the selection processes used, the involvement in the operational aspect of the school and the lack of interest in board evaluation. These same boards also all indicated strong sustainable outcomes showing that the boards have been effective in their purpose. The bivariate relationships, although mostly positively correlated, were not statistically significant. This study can benefit both independent and government schools by increasing awareness of the key determinants of board effectiveness and applying this knowledge to evaluating their boards annually.
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