Role and contribution of the non-executive director : implications for corporate social responsibility in the boardroom

by Barratt, Ruth

Abstract (Summary)
This research examines the role and contribution of the Non Executive Director

(NED) within the corporate board. The literature identifies the NED as a boundary

spanner. Boundary spanners are believed to be essential to the fulfilment of the

firm's corporate responsibility mandate. The research specifically examines the

ability of the NED to influence corporate responsibility practices within the board,

whilst balancing the divergent expectations of different constituents. Previous

research examining the role of the NED has failed to take account of the context in

which the role is performed. Therefore an interpretive framework is developed, to

examine the individual subjective perceptions of the NED, from within the role.

Through a qualitative interpretation of 25 in-depth interviews, with individual

NEDs, the dynamic context of the boardroom emerged as a key moderator of the

their ability to make a contribution. The boundary spanning role prescribed for the

NED by some theorists emerged as problematic. The research suggests that despite

NEDs' personal expectation that they should represent a range of constituents,

within the boardroom their ability to fulfil this role is often limited by the presence

of groupthink. NEDs appear to set aside their personal beliefs in order to maintain

the status quo within the group. As a result of their unfulfilled role expectations

many NEDs appear to experience role conflict.

This research contributes to our understanding of the actual role of the NED within

the corporate board, and specifically the NED's ability to perform a boundary

spanning role. The research also informs business and society literature, by

examining how boards currently deal with issues of corporate responsibility. Finally,

the research contributes to both group and role theory, by developing current

understanding of how the complex dynamics of the group affect the individual's

ability to contribute.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Kakabadse, Andrew P. (supervisor); Kakabadse, Nada (supervisor)

School:Cranfield University

School Location:United Kingdom

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:06/01/2005

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