The Competitive Advantages of Compound Boards

29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2001

See all articles by Shann Turnbull

Shann Turnbull

International Institute for Self-Governance; Sustainable Money Working Group; New Garden City Alliance


The paper identifies the manifold conflicts of interest inherent in firms governed by a single board and how a unitary board exacerbates information overload and bounded rationality while paradoxically not providing sufficient information, independent of management, to direct, monitor, control, and change management. Firms governed by a multiple boards, described as a compound board, introduce a division of power to mediate conflicts, allow access to superior feedback information from stakeholders, and enhance the cybernetic integrity of how a firm is governed. Compound boards are identified as a necessary condition for reducing the cost of finance and developing (i) self-regulation and self-governance, (ii) sustainable employee and/or other stakeholder participation in governance, and (iii) superior performance. This makes unitary boards inconsistent with knowledge intensive or network firms seeking to bond "human capital" through employee ownership or for firms with a large degree of employee ownership. Performance, Self-governance, Self-regulation, Social tensegrity, Unitary boards

Keywords: Compound board, Cybernetics, Employee ownership, Firm architecture, Governance, Mondragon, Requisite variety,

JEL Classification: B49, D21, D79, L29

Suggested Citation

Turnbull, Shann, The Competitive Advantages of Compound Boards. Available at SSRN: or

Shann Turnbull (Contact Author)

International Institute for Self-Governance ( email )

PO Box 266 Woollahra
Cell: +61418222378
Sydney, New South Wales 1350
+61293278487 (Phone)
+61280655905 (Fax)

SKYPE: shann.turnbull

Sustainable Money Working Group ( email )

Holyoake House
Hanover Street
Manchester, M60 0AS
United Kingdom

New Garden City Alliance ( email )

113 Guinness Court
London, UK, SE1 3TA
United Kingdom
+44 207 378 1902 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics