Birkbeck, University of London > Business services > Case studies > Case study: Governance Beyond the Boardroom

Governance Beyond the Boardroom

This project was designed to deliver a ‘toolkit’ to build corporate governance culture and capability beyond the boardroom in the financial services sector. The project was funded through an Economic and Social Research Council initiative and was a collaboration between Birkbeck and SpiroNicholson, the Organisational Development consultancy.



    • In the post-crunch era, governance questions need to be refocused at employees.
    • To foster the long-term resilience of the business, many people beyond the Board need to be aware of the implications of their actions and behaviours both to deliver commercial performance and to comply with business assurance needs.


    • The project team constructed a theoretical framework to understand how governance beyond the boardroom actually works in the financial services sector. This PASA model (Principal-Agent-SubAgent) explains the vital role of SubAgents like traders, salesforce, and others whose daily behaviours can be described as "the way we do things around here".
    • The theoretical framework was tested in 21 in-depth interviews with people across the financial services sector. From these interviews, the project team isolated 10 drivers of governance culture in the sector. These results were tested at a researchers' seminar in September 2010.
    • Finally, the project team drew on its practical experience to construct the toolkit framework presented below. This toolkit framework was tested at a practitioners' seminar in November 2010.

    Commercial benefits

    • The corporate governance toolkit is designed to help banks and other financial institutions to:
      • provide a means of responsible self-regulation to counteract moves towards more intrusive rules
      • enhance their competitive advantage in identifying and managing corporate governance risk at firm level
      • constrain systemic risk across the industry through shared standards of corporate governance practice
      • manage employees’ awareness and implementation of corporate governance standards and practice

    Toolkit documents to download

    Contact us