Power Shifts and Board Roles in SMEs: a Multiple Case Study
The aim of this paper is to understand the functioning of boards and the roles they play in SME governance. Results from case studies of six small Tunisian firms revealed a range of board functions grouped according to four typical roles of control, strategy, service and mediation. The types of board involvement in firm decision making ranged among the case firms from a passive board classified as a “legal fiction” to a fully active “pilot” type of board depending on the relationship between the board and the CEO/founder and the firm's circumstances. SME governance under changing circumstances encompassed all four board roles but emphasis was placed on one or two key roles according to the strategic demands of the firm. In this context multiple board roles employed simultaneously are captured as a portfolio of roles and integrated within a contingency framework that aligns board competence with the firm's evolving strategic requirements.