Hospital governing boards: a study of their effectiveness in relation to organizational performance

Kathryn J McDonagh
Journal of Healthcare Management / American College of Healthcare Executives 2006, 51 (6): 377-89; discussion 390-1
This article describes the development and evolution of governing boards and summarizes critical findings from a research study on hospital governing boards. The purpose of the research was to examine factors that measure performance of governing boards and the relationship of governing board effectiveness to the organizational performance of hospitals. Board leaders from 64 nonprofit hospitals across the country were surveyed using the BSAQ tool, which measures board effectiveness in six areas of competency. Board competency scores of this group were compared with those of a previous group, which consisted of more than 300 nonprofit boards, and demonstrated significantly higher scores. A factor analysis conducted to compare the six competency factors between study groups revealed a strong single factor in this study. The factors that measure governing board performance were found to be consolidated into one single factor of collaborative board functioning consistent with emerging governance theory. This may support the concept of the importance of governing boards as collaborative, socially dynamic networks of leaders. The hospital performance was assessed using data from the nationally recognized program, Solucient's 100 Top Hospitals. The results demonstrate that higher performing boards did have better hospital performance in several dimensions, most notably in profitability and lower expenses. Lower expenses were related to higher scores for the BSAQ total score. Hospital profitability was positively correlated with all seven BSAQ scores. A more favorable Solucient ranking was related to hospitals that had a lower BSAQ political score. This was also found in a multiple regression model that predicted a favorable ranking when the BSAQ political score was lower. This may mean that these boards do what needs to be done to maintain excellent performance and do not let politics get in the way of their work. Although governance and its effect on hospital performance is a complex concept to study, this investigation yields findings of interest to leaders in the healthcare field.

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