An education in governance

A unique qualification in the increasingly relevant area of corporate and institutional governance is now available in New Zealand.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Administration endorsed in Corporate and Institutional Governance is a first and has been introduced by Massey University's Department of Management.

It is expected to appeal to existing or potential directors of companies, members of school boards, community trusts or other voluntary organisations and others with a serious interest in governance issues.

Professor Martin Devlin says the new diploma is the result of an increasing number of inquiries to the University about ongoing qualifications in the field of governance.

He says the new programme provides an important new tool, given that many recent corporate and institutional failures, in New Zealand and overseas, have been failures in governance as much as failures by management.

Discussions with the governance community, the Institute of Directors, independent consultants, Crown Companies Monitoring and Advisory Unit, as well as practitioners of governance, revealed a need for governance education in general and some areas in particular.

Those areas include:
• Governance and strategy
• Current issues in governance
• Best governance practices private, public, and voluntary
• An understanding of the principles of good governance in the New Zealand context
• Research in, and theory of, governance
• Local case studies in governance
• Duties, roles, and responsibilities of directors
• Legal and ethical studies
• Business-related skills development in governance.

Professor Devlin says the new qualification will cover all of those areas, providing a comprehensive and thorough understanding of all facets of governance, based on current research, publications and best practice guidelines.

Under the Companies Act, directors are responsible for the management of the company so one way of looking at the role of governance is that of providing strategic direction for organisations, or managing the managers, Professor Devlin says. While authority and resources may be delegated to appointed managers, it is the directors or board members who are ultimately responsible for the success or otherwise of the organisation.

Professor Devlin says failure to properly perform the duties of directors may result in severe criminal and civil penalties, including substantial fines and terms of imprisonment.

Similar, less substantial outcomes apply to board members of public and voluntary organisations. Above all, there are the social costs of organisational failure and the damage to the reputations of those involved.

He says the new qualification will allow students to understand and appreciate what constitutes best governance practice, to help organisations and companies achieve the goals expected of them by their stakeholders and owners.

The diploma is available extramurally and enrolments are already high.

Created: 23 May, 2006

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