This paper presents the findings of an in depth study of power relations between boards and senior managers in four organisations: a school and a FE college from the public sector and a national overseas development agency and a community-based organisation from the voluntary sector. Unlike many previous studies of boards this study draws on observations of what happened inside the boardroom as well as interviews and the analysis of board documents. Pettigrew and McNulty's (1995) tripartite model of power and influence is used to analyse and compare power relations in the four organisations. The paper argues that neither agency theory nor managerial hegemony theory adequately explains board power relations. In particular it highlights how differences in expertise and skill, and board processes and procedure helped shape different patterns of power
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