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Title: Governance of UK pensions schemes : the impact of socialisation on the reproduction of board governance as practice
Author: Pober, Angela
ISNI:       0000 0004 5350 0236
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates governance in practice as evidenced by directly observed board room dynamics and first hand recollections of when continuity of governance is disrupted by the rotation of board members. There is parsimonious research into corporate governance as an act due to the difficulty of gaining access to the board room. My research is conducted on pension scheme boards as this is where I had personal experience of being a novice board member who found herself getting to grips with the board tasks in situ. As being a pension fund trustee is an important high-stakes role this research seeks to investigate how such governance boards ensure the reproduction of governance as newcomers and novices relinquish and take up a seat at the board. I investigate novices taking on a trustee role on a workplace pension scheme board, a role which is important as trustees oversee £1.6trillion of 12million peoples’ retirement money. Yet throughout the UK, workplace pension funds are beset with problems such as growing deficits, regulatory intervention and a £100billion funding gap. The findings of research is important to both corporate governance and roles such as community led governance of hospitals and charities and schools were board members can be sought from the community at large. To investigate the problem of reproduction of governance on the board during periods of disruption, I needed to understand what was going on within the boardroom during these periods which meant researching the dynamics of meeting that involved the board cohort and the novice and then to extend the research longitudinally to investigate their experience as they strove to become an integrated board member. There are several theoretical options to explore that span learning theory to expert theory, and extend out to understand how one becomes a board member as the governance process aims to remain stable where the theory development has focused on socialisation. To get the of input that I required to prevent this study from relying solely on participants’ claims of what they did I deployed a mixed method approach which incorporated original longitudinal journals and interviews from 5 novice trustees, 26 Elite interviews, and observations of novices in action on 2 pensions boards; as the analysis developed I sought additional data from publicly available board minutes to further explore and augment the findings of the discourse analysis. The goal of this research was to find out how the rhythm of governance as practice is executed by a board as it withstands the disturbance of board members leaving and joining by investigating the first hand and observed experiences of those involved in governance as an activity. My findings are that the results do not align with the linear nature of the theory of socialisation, the setting of the boardroom providing a more complex, changing and unstable influence on a novice’s journey into trusteeship and knowing whether they have mastered the board tasks, processes and performance requirements to the maximal level. The thesis contributes to knowledge of good governance practices in a number of ways namely: 1. By suggesting enhancements to boardroom processes to improve socialisation practices, 2. Augmenting the theoretical framework of socialisation for a non-job-like role, and 3. Developing research knowledge on how to undertake board observations in a confidential business environment.
Supervisor: Solomon, Jill Frances; Preda, Alexandru Codru Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available