NGO Leadership and Governance


 (1) To understand and consolidate service provision and management experiences for better governance of NGOs in Hong Kong
 (2) To identify governance mechanisms of nonprofit organizations to inform board practices and future research as well as theory development of NGO governance
 (3) To build models and cases of nonprofit management for trainings of executives and board directors in Hong Kong

 Strategic Leadership of Social Service Organisations in Hong Kong


To understand and consolidate service provision and management experiences of social service organisations (SSOs) through CEO competency modeling research

Approach and Scope

In collaboration with the HKCSS Institute (HKCSSI), we aim to develop a competency model of CEOs/EDs/MDs of nonprofit SSOs in Hong Kong for training top management talents. The project is based on an empirical study of competencies of CEOs/EDs/MDs in responding to challenges faced by SSOs. Competencies not only include professional knowledge and skills but also involve management wisdom and personal charisma.

The study consists of two parts—collection of competencies and validation of the competency framework. In the first part, 30 CEOs will be invited and interviewed individually to collect their management critical incidents (i.e., milestone events) during their term. Competencies will be derived from the critical incidents. We have interviewed 12 CEOs so far and plan to finish the interview by the end of March, 2013 and establish a competency model by June, 2013. Regarding the validation part, we aim to collect opinions from 4 panels of key stakeholder constituencies about SSO’s challenges and required organisational conditions and CEOs competencies. The 4 panels are donors, community/service users, academics and board members. We have almost finished interviews or surveys with academics and board members. We plan to complete the validation of the competency model by August, 2013.

Governing Effectiveness of Nonprofit Boards: A Systematic Review of Research in the Past 10 Years


To inform board practices of NGOs and future research as well as theory development of NGO governance

Approach and Scope

The global economic downturn and ensuing challenges to the nonprofit sector in recent years call for more accountability and better board governance. In collaboration with the School of Business of the University of Hong Kong, using a systematic review approach, we attempt to take stock of research on governing effectiveness of nonprofit boards of the past 10 years from 2002 to 2012. The databases used in the study were those included in the ISI Web of Knowledge — SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI, CPCI-S, CPCI-SSH. Search terms were nonprofits, boards and effectiveness and their derivatives. 120 peer-reviewed journal articles were reviewed and coded.

Findings were synthesized and reported in terms of two major types of research questions—what affects boards’ compliance with recommended governance practices and what board practices actually lead to organizational performance. Inconsistencies in the findings were identified. Implications for nonprofit board practices are drawn. We are now refining the research article.

Initial Findings

  • There are two types of approaches in looking at effective board governance

–    Descriptive approach: 51% of studies examined governing effectiveness in terms of organizational performance, such as a subjective measure of overall performance (e.g., satisfaction), financial health measures (e.g., efficiency ratios, operating budget growth), service delivery measures (e.g., service quality, number of users, number of programs), and stakeholder representation.

–   Normative approach: 49% of studies looked at compliance with recommended practices of board governance, including financial oversight, program evaluation and quality control, CEO performance evaluation, recommended practices of Sarbanes–Oxley Act, strategic planning, fund raising and public relations.

  • The normative approach to looking at governing effectiveness of nonprofit boards is premised on conventional roles of boards in response to organizational needs for internal control and resources—recommended practices from the for-profit sector. However, nonprofit organizations’ nature requires the board to adopt more practices which are aligned with charitable missions for which the organization is accountable. Therefore, two types of approaches are not mutually exclusive, calling for a holistic picture of governing effectiveness of nonprofit boards and nonprofit accountability.