3.2 Best Practice: Governing the Site

What We’re Hearing

Navigating governance in a partnership is complex. Partners must work together to attain common goals through varying lenses, achieving balance between accountability and independence.

Relationships change over time, as do contributions and power dynamics, creating tensions in the partnership. Issues arise when all parties are not engaged in governing the site at appropriate levels, and boards and committees within each party often fall out of alignment and lack clear communication with each other.

Third parties are often undervalued and excluded from necessary conversations about the focus and development of a site, limiting their potential to contribute to the partnership. Government politics have a distinct effect on site management, determining shifts in the level of support directed to operators and third parties.

Best Practices

Find a governance structure that involves all parties in a balanced way that suits the site - every partnership will require fine tuning to determine the best approach. A consensus-based decision-making process may be more suitable than involving a voting board of directors, for example. It is important for each partner to retain their autonomy while engaging with the others in the partnership at an appropriate level. An understanding of roles is key. Overall, effective governance is rooted in a process of acknowledging progress and pointing to what needs to happen to continuously move things forward.

Best Practices for Owners

  • Participate in governance at a level that allows operator and third parties to determine a governance structure that works for them. If you are providing a representative for an operator or third-party board, select an appropriate representative with interest/expertise in the site.
  • Including governance “must haves” in the partnership agreement will ensure accountability on the operator’s part.
  • Respect the advocacy role of many operators and third parties. They have a duty to speak up for community issues.
  • Best Practices for Operators and Third Parties

  • For non-profits, having a strong, active board with a diversity of expertise, perspectives, and community ties demonstrates responsible oversight. This signals to the owner that the site is in good hands.
  • Feedback is mixed on the impacts of owner participation in board structures: some find it a benefit to partner communication, while others find it restrictive to open discussion. If you do invite the owner to sit in, clearly state the limits of their role in your agreement or invite them to participate in working groups/committees instead.
  • Try This – Operators

    Participating in a Cultural Advisory committee that oversees the implementation of an owner’s cultural plan, or similar initiatives, can build credibility and demonstrate active engagement with the owner’s objectives. Seeking out opportunities to contribute illustrates leadership and can reflect positively on your site. Participating in regional boards or committees also helps you network with your peers and build external relationships.