Orientation Programmes for Directors of State-Owned Enterprises: A Review of Commonwealth Experiences

Michael A. O'NeillMichael A. O’Neill, PhD, Sessional Lecturer, School of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, combines professional activities in both academia and the public sector. As an academic Michael has taught public administration and political science at the University of Ottawa and the École nationale d’administration publique. He has also been a guest presenter at Webster University (Vienna) and the Canada School of Public Service. In the public sector Michael has held senior policy roles with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Health Canada, Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development Canada and the Institute on Governance. For the past nine years his professional activities have converged on the topic of state-owned enterprises. Michael holds a PhD from the University of Warwick. He is the author of numerous articles and reports on public administration in Canada and in Commonwealth countries.


Trending with the rise of New Public Management (NPM), the issue of competencies required for public sector personnel and how to construct education and training programmes for current and future public sector staff has attracted considerable attention among practitioners and scholars (see Anselmi, Lazzini, & Zarone, 2013, Anselmi, Kudo & Zarone, 2013, Hood & Lodge, 2004, Virtanen, 2000). These discussions evoke the broader theme of the role of education and training in public administration. Reichard (1998) distinguishes between these by describing education, as ‘pre-entry preparation for future public servants’ while training is ‘a narrower instructional process which takes place after recruiting’. The former is largely acquired through degree-granting institutions or professional academies and the latter is obtained either through on-the-job learning or professional training institutions (Reichard, 1998: 181).
While both education and training result in the acquisition of specified knowledge, concepts, and facts (Clark and Pal, 2011: 15) it is also specifically about the acquisition of skills and behaviours adapted to the public sector context or what could be generically referred to as “qualifications” (Zarifian, 2004) or “competencies” (Hood & Lodge 2004). By way of example, the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) cites its raison d’être ‘to ensure that public servants have the common knowledge and the leadership and management competencies they require to fulfil their responsibilities in serving Canadians’ (CSPS, 2013: 2). What these and other scholars have in common is their interest in what we term traditional public service positions as defined by national public service legislation or public service national training institutions (see for example, Australia, 1999).  By contrast, few have considered other roles within the public sector and the learning needs associated with these. One such public sector role is that of directors of state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The main focus of this article is therefore on the professional development needs of SOE directors. Our interest in this subset of public sector officials stems from the specificity of roles within the public sector as well as the nature of their recruitment and appointment.  We will argue that while the professional profiles of most SOE directors prepares them to assume their roles, they require training in order to become proficient in these. Our study concerns the distinctive features of the training programmes that have been instituted for SOE directors in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This study aims to highlight a broader discussion about the acquisition of competencies, skills, and knowledge necessary to fulfil a senior public mandate. Though there is growing literature on education and training in public management and administration, far less has concerned directors of SOEs.
This study will be of interest to public officials with a role in appointment processes for SOEs as well as to public officials and scholars with an interest in public sector and corporate governance and SOE performance. Practitioners in the field of professional development may find in this paper inspiration for new courses and expanded audiences. This paper addresses a gap in the governance literature for the state- owned sector and further serves as a call for research into this relatively neglected area of public sector governance.
This paper seeks to provide empirical grounding for a discussion around the benefits of providing orientation and learning programmes for directors on boards of SOEs.  To this end we present the results of a survey of SOE director training and professional development programmes in the aforementioned countries. For the purposes of this article we distinguish these from director education programmes, which may be obtained through degree granting institutions, such as through an MBA.
The principal phase of our research was conducted between April 2012 and January 2013 through questionnaire-based confidential interviews1 and exchanges of correspondence with officials of government central coordinating agencies and ministries, which establish the professional development framework for SOE directors and private or not-for-profit institutions that provide director professional development programmes. The main elements of the research questionnaire are presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Questionnaire Elements 
The interviews were conducted in an unstructured format thereby enabling the key informants to approach the topic from a variety of perspectives. The interview findings were analysed using a simplified version of grounded research and supplemented by document and literature research. The jurisdictions reported in this paper were selected principally because of the availability of research interviews and corroborative material. The author makes no claim that these jurisdictions are in any way exceptional or should be considered as examples of best practices. They are, however, interesting in the variety of approaches they have applied to SOE director orientation.
State-owned enterprises are one of the oldest forms of government institution.  As observed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2011) the definition of what constitutes an SOE differs considerably from one jurisdiction to the next. For our purposes we define the SOE as a government institution created as a distinct legal entity, wholly owned by the government, and constituted as a corporation, for the purpose of pursuing a public policy goal. As can be seen from Table 2, in the jurisdictions considered in our study SOEs are significant national actors, providing essential public services, and generating significant public spending and employment.

Table 2: Size of the State-Owned Sector in Selected Case Studies (aggregated figures) (2009)

As students of the policy sciences, it is understood that government decision-making includes not just a consideration of whether to act in a particular circumstance but also a careful selection of the ideal policy instrument (see Howlett, Eliadis & Hill, 2005). It follows that the choice of the corporate form to pursue public policy ends is not accidental. Among its many advantages the SOE model provides for a relative independence from direct ministerial control and influence. This creates the “arm’s length” from the government which has become short hand for the relative autonomy of these institutions (Zussman 2012).
SOEs exist within a matrix of relations among various actors (public, legislature, government, board of directors, corporate management, and clients and stakeholders), which results in greater complexity in terms of stewardship and accountability than is the norm in the public or private sectors (Australian National Audit Office [ANAO], 1999; Treasury Board [TB], 2005; and research interviews). At the centre of this matrix lies the board of directors. While Frederick (2011, p. 11) is undoubtedly correct in stating that SOE boards are “no different from a private sector board” in its processes, this observation does not account for the different operating environment of the SOEs and their boards. The SOE board of directors sit alone as the intermediary between the state, which defined the public policy purpose, and the other actors listed above, with expectations of their own.  In short, this role is far broader than that of any peer in the private sector board. Success or failure for an SOE is therefore measured by more than financial considerations, but also by public policy considerations. The challenge for an SOE director therefore lies in navigating an environment defined by public policy considerations.
Another significant particularity concerns the manner of appointment of SOE directors. All of our case studies share the requirement for ministerial appointment of directors, with candidate nominations based on recruitment and selection processes that rely on competency and experience-based profiles. The board profiles outline a matrix of competencies and experience, such as corporate governance experience, business sector– specific knowledge, stakeholder relations, and political astuteness that prospective board members are expected to possess prior to appointment (OECD, 2013: 34). These profiles are frequently the result of discussions between the SOE board and the appointing authority (research interviews).
In Australia and New Zealand the SOE recruitment processes rely on publicly advertised processes to solicit candidates whereas in Canada and the United Kingdom the identification of potential board members varies from one SOE to the next, and the legislation that applies to them (Canada, 2012; New Zealand, 2014; Australia, 2011, research interviews). In the Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom the director recruitment and nomination processes have been described as informal whereas New Zealand’s approach to SOE director recruitment is more elaborate and has been described as the “most sophisticated model of advice, vetting and ministerial interaction” (OECD, 2014: 34). New Zealand’s approach relies on a permanent candidate identification programme managed by the Treasury (OECD, 2014: 36; New Zealand, 2014).
Whereas shareholders elect directors on private sector boards, in SOEs the process has more similarity with an employment recruitment process.  However what truly distinguishes the private sector board from the SOE board is the culmination of the process with a political decision made by the governmental executive.
In short, SOE directors occupy a unique role in the state apparatus; though their institutions were created to have autonomy from the government, they apply the principles of private sector corporate governance. As a consequence new appointees soon discover that their decisions are permeable to public policy and political considerations. SOE directors therefore must adopt a hybrid approach to their roles, applying at the same time the principles and incentives of both public and private sector governance. This environment is such that even experienced directors with backgrounds on private sector boards confront a steep learning curve when they join the board of an SOE (research interviews). Though their professional and educational background have prepared them well for roles on private sector boards, it leaves them little prepared for a similar role within the public sector. Given this, what are governments doing to flatten the learning curve?
Director education is not new. Institutions such as the United Kingdom’s venerable Institute of Directors have delivered training for decades (Institute of Directors, 2013). In the private sector the impetus for director professional development and training grew out of high profile corporate scandals. In time the interest in director education percolated from the private sector to a public sector in search of responses to governance problems that had arisen in their SOEs (TB, 2005, p. 6; ANAO, 1999, p.1; Auditor General of Canada [AGC], 2005, p.4-5; research interviews).
Though there are few reliable numbers it is estimated that approximately 10 per cent of sitting board members in Canada have followed a director-training programme, with this number at one time anticipated to grow by 25 per cent annually (Davis, 2012; Immen 2010). In the public sector, there exists little comprehensive and reliable information on the number of SOE directors that have undertaken director professional development programmes. Where such figures are reported, these tend to be included in the promotional documents of training institutions (see for example, Collège des administrateurs de sociétés, 2015).
Interestingly, despite the relative notoriety of director training programmes, there is little literature on director training and most has a decidedly practitioner focus. In their extensive review of the literature, McIntyre and Murphy’s (2009) noted that these programmes are contributing to individual and collective effectiveness of the board as well as the performance and overall competitiveness of the corporation.  However, they noted that these claims have little probative evidence to support them (McIntyre and Murphy, 2009, p.350-351).
There exists little comparable literature to that reviewed by McIntyre and Murphy (2009) with regard to SOEs, and what literature exists consists of reports and studies conducted or commissioned by State bodies and international organisations, with most supportive of the benefits of such programmes and highlighting the intangible benefits of this training (see for example, AGC, 2001; ANAO, 1999; TB, 2005; New Zealand, 2012; OECD, 2010; Meredith, 2006; Frederick, 2011; Luke, 2010; Vagliasindi, 2008).
If we accept the premise that directors require orientation and professional development, of what should these programmes consist?  The commonality in all of the director education programmes surveyed by McIntyre and Murphy was a focus on “corporate governance, roles and responsibilities of the board and the development of board skills for effective business and company direction” (2009, p. 359. See also the results of their survey on pages 363-370). Though these topics would also be relevant to SOE directors, especially in light of Frederick’s (2011) conclusions, these are generic governance issues. What distinguishes the role of the SOE director, and by consequence their training needs, is the public sector environment that even experienced directors with private sector experience often find challenging.
On this issue Tremblay, Morneau, and Pronovost (2012) argue that the state environment is what most separates private sector and SOE boards and, consequently, that this difference should form the core of director training programmes – a view shared by officials interviewed for this project (research interviews). While SOE directors will benefit from training in general corporate governance and best practices, what they most require is a sound understanding of the legislation affecting their corporation as well as understanding the relationships between the board, the corporation, and the government (Tremblay et al, 2012, pp. 23-24, see also ANAO, 1999, p.14; Treasury Board, 2005, p. 25). As we note below, the primary purpose of the SOE director orientation programmes is to smooth the transition of new appointees into their new role in the public sector rather than compensate for gaps in the knowledge – an echo of Reichard’s (1998) distinction between pre- recruitment education and post- recruitment training.
In light of these considerations we present our findings concerning director orientation as currently practiced in the four jurisdictions under study. Our findings are summarized in Table 3 that follows.

Australia’s SOEs are overseen by the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s Government Businesses Advice Branch (GBAB), which is responsible for defining the governance framework that applies to federal SOEs subject to the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act (Australia, 2013). The governance framework is contained in the Commonwealth Government Business Enterprise Governance and Oversight Guidelines (Australia, 2011). The Guidelines outline the principles and practices that should guide SOE boards of directors and management as well as ministers and their departments.
In Australia, appointments to the boards of directors of SOEs rely on public recruitment processes that assess candidates using a profile of competencies and experiences. For example, the Charter of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee for Australia Post references this responsibility (Australia Post, 2014). In regard to training, requirements are spelled out in the Guidelines establishing the framework for orientation and professional development programmes for directors (Australia, 2011, p.14). Though silent as to the policy rationale for such programmes, the Guidelines are explicit as to their expected contents: “induction programs should incorporate information on general public sector, legal, performance and accountability obligations” (Australia, 2011, p.14).  From this we can deduce an interest in smoothing a new director’s transition into the public sector.
While the Guidelines have resulted in the development of orientation programmes for SOE directors, decentralization and institutional silos mark the Australian approach. Thus, rather than establishing common orientation programmes, SOEs have tended to establish bespoke orientation programmes to suit their particular circumstances. Similarly, departments have begun offering briefings on ‘machinery of government’, ‘how government works’, and the complexity of relationships between ministers, and senior officials.  However, these are again purpose built to their portfolios (research interviews). In the absence of a government-wide offering, external bodies, such as the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), have developed courses designed to meet the needs of new appointees with limited experience on boards of directors, public or private (AICD n.d.). Though run independently from government, the development of these courses was done in collaboration with government officials (research interviews). It is also notable that contrary to the model followed in Canada, for example, Australia’s approach opted not to engage the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) in the delivery of training and orientation programmes for directors. This choice reflects a choice of instrument that relies on non-governmental actors, such as AICD, rather than working through an institution with close linkages to government.

Responsibility for oversight of Canada’s SOEs or Crown corporations is divided among four organisations:  Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and the Privy Council Office (PCO), as the administrative bodies supporting the Executive (Cabinet), have the primary supervisory roles; the Department of Finance plays an oversight role when Crown corporation financial activities (principally borrowing) engage the national fiscal framework; and portfolio departments with a more limited role in support of ministerial responsibility regarding Crown corporations. Each in its own way plays a part in ensuring that SOEs adhere to good governance practices.  In the area of training, PCO and TBS are the lead organisations, in collaboration with Canada School of Public Service (CSPS), the federal government’s training institution. PCO’s role in director orientation stems from its role in the appointment process, while TBS’s role stems from its responsibility for key parts of the Financial Administration Act, specifically those elements concerned with Crown corporation governance.
In Canada, appointments to the boards of directors of SOEs rely on a blend of internal and external-to- government processes that seek to narrow the list of potential board appointees to a few candidates for ministerial decision. Though steeped in politics, the recruitment processes rely on an assessment of candidates using a profile of competencies and experiences. For example, the board profile for Canada Post is quite detailed in regard to the competencies, experiences, and qualifications for potential members of the board (Canada Post, 2015).
Canada instituted its director orientation programme in 2003 in response to recommendations of Canada’s Auditor General (AGC, 2001).  Since 2003, the programme has consisted of two components: one-on-one briefing sessions provided to new board chairpersons and CEOs and an in-person orientation programme aimed at new directors.
The first component, one-on-one briefings, has been a feature of Canada’s orientation programme since 2003, with the exception of a hiatus between 2005 and 2008. Aimed at newly appointed chairpersons and CEOs, these briefings revolve around meetings between the new appointee and senior officials from PCO and TBS. Meeting agendas and the officials involved are tailored in order to provide for the specific needs of new appointees (AGC, 2009). The second component consists of three one-day courses that focus on the topics of financial literacy, director roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, and introduction to the Canadian federal public sector (CSPS 2012a; CSPS 2012b; CSPS 2012c).  Though developed to meet the needs of new directors, registration is not restricted to this group2.
In addition to these centrally coordinated programmes, a lesser role is played in director orientation by portfolio departments. Departments that undertake these activities rely on in-person briefing sessions to introduce new directors to the role of the responsible minister, the department, and the other organisations under their chapeaus. Some departments, such as Canadian Heritage have gone further and provided incoming directors with an orientation handbook (Canadian Heritage, 2009).  However, practices in this regard vary greatly from one federal organisation to the next (research interviews). In addition, some SOEs also organize their own information sessions for their new directors focusing primarily on operational issues rather than on governance (research interviews). Practices vary considerably from one SOE to the other.
Commenting in 2009 on the state of SOE governance and performance, Canada’s Auditor General reported favourably on these programmes (AGC, 2009, p.16). A continuing challenge for central agencies and CSPS has been to ensure that directors attend the orientation programme, especially as there is little or no consequence for directors who opt not to participate (research interview).

New Zealand 
Responsibility for orientation of new directors to the boards of New Zealand’s SOEs is shared between the Treasury’s Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (COMU)3 and the SOEs themselves. COMU is also responsible for establishing the Government’s governance and management expectations for its SOEs through the Owner’s Expectations Manual (New Zealand, 2012).
In New Zealand, the process of appointments to SOE boards of directors are public though centrally administered by the Treasury. As is the case in Canada and Australia, New Zealand’s approach also relies on a defined profile of required board competencies defined by the Treasury. However, in the New Zealand case the role of the board in the appointment is limited to consultations between the board and the responsible minister. For example, New Zealand Post’s Statement of Corporate Governance is very clear on the central role played by the responsible minister in this process (New Zealand Post, 2014).
In New Zealand, director orientation programmes are deemed to contribute to directors’ transition to the Crown environment as well as shortening the learning curve and contributing to director performance (New Zealand, 2012, p. 57). In light of this, the manual sets out ministerial expectations for a three-level orientation programme composed of inter- related components and delivered by COMU and the SOEs in partnership with other government organisations in line with their specific roles and responsibilities. These components are:
  • An introduction to the company and board: This component, to be provided by the SOE under the direction of the board’s chairperson,is meant to provide an in- person introduction to the corporation, its business, organisation, and management. In addition, new directors are to be briefed on the board, its by-laws, committees and governance practices. To be organized within two months of appointment, the orientation programme is mandatory for both the corporation to provide and the in-coming director to undertake;
  • Director’s manual: To assist in the transition to their roles new director appointees are provided with a manualcontaining useful information about the corporation such as its business plans, key contacts, past records of decisions and documentation pertaining to board and company governance. Responsibility for preparing this document rests with the SOE; and
  • Induction workshop: Organized by COMU, this one-day in-person workshop consists of a series of presentations by the Minister of State for State-owned Enterprises, senior officials in COMU, representatives from New Zealand’s Auditor General, and officials from SOE who are present to share first-hand experiences (New Zealand, 2012, p. 57; research interviews,).

In addition to the emphasis placed on director orientation there is a further expectation that directors will commit to on- going professional development throughout their tenure. This is reinforced by the inclusion of learning as a formal part of the board’s performance review (New Zealand, 2012, p. 89). It is worth noting that, as is the case in Australia, ANZSOG was not chosen as a key partner in SOE director orientation and training, though contrary to Australia the New Zealand’s approach included a central role for government in this.
Though some aspects of New Zealand’s approach to director orientation remain voluntary, the combination of a clear statement of policy in regard to director education and a benchmark against which behaviours can be measured may explain New Zealand officials’ satisfaction with progress made to date (research interviews).
United Kingdom 
The United Kingdom’s Shareholder Executive (ShEx), part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), is responsible for managing the UK government’s intervention as shareholder in over 20 businesses. ShEx is unique among our case studies in that it is also represented on the board of several of the UK’s SOEs (Shareholder Executive, 2013).
In the United Kingdom the process of director recruitment and appointment is similar to Canada’s in that it does not include a public process – contrary to what is the norm for public appointments in other areas of the United Kingdom’s public sector. As the coordinating body for SOEs within the government, ShEx plays a role in the evaluation of prospective directors, though this is formally led by the line department in keeping with the responsibility to make recommendations to the minister responsible for the portfolio.
ShEx’s approach to SOE director orientation resembles the approach applied in Australia. Though ShEx assists the transition of new appointees to their roles on SOE boards, in practice this has been limited to voicing its expectation that new directors will receive orientation from the SOE to which they were appointed. Eschewing the establishment of a formal training programme or orientation sessions, ShEx has in the past directed new appointees seeking training on board practices and corporate governance to external programmes, such as those offered by the IOD (research interviews).
The one exception to this practice concerns the training offered to ShEx’s staff. Given its role as the government’s representative of SOE boards, ShEx has had to develop
an in-house capacity to ensure its senior staff members are ready and able to take on the role of SOE director. For this reason, ShEx has had recourse to the Institute of Directors to provide its staff with general director and board governance training (research interviews). Though this cannot be described as a formal partnership, it belies an appreciation for the value of such training, at least for a certain type of SOE director.

Table 3: SOE Director Orientation Practices: Summary of Findings.

This discussion highlights a number of commonalities and differences with regard to director orientation and training across the jurisdictions studied. Firstly, with the exception of the United Kingdom, all of the jurisdictions reviewed have in place a form of policy statement on SOE governance that addresses board of director performance with explicit reference to director orientation and professional development. Issued in 2011, New Zealand and Australia have the most recent such policy statements while Canada’s was published in 2005. New Zealand’s policy statement is notable in that it discusses the benefits to governance to accrue from director orientation as well as establishing clear and measureable expectations in that regard. We also note that our case studies highlight differing roles for ministerial departments in the area of director orientation. In Australia and New Zealand the policy statements establish formal expectations in terms of the role ministerial departments are to play. In Canada, the role played by departments varies considerably, with some departments active in this area and others less so. In the case of the United Kingdom, we found no evidence of such practices.
The existence of these policy statements, emanating from the political executive, highlight the criticality of the director appointments as a prerogative of the government and the expected contribution made by SOE directors to the fulfilment of public policy. Moreover, such policy statements embed the twin ideals of competency and professional development (Zarifian, 2004; Hood & Lodge, 2004) that should be at the heart of any high performing organisation.
We also note that New Zealand was the only jurisdiction where the policy statements made director orientation and professional development programmes mandatory. This is significant in that the orientation training is meant to smooth the transition of new directors to their role within a public sector body. In the other jurisdictions, this lack of mandatory training may highlight an overreliance on previous experience and instinct as determinants in new appointee effectiveness.
Second, we found no commonality in terms of institutional approaches to SOE director orientation. In Australia and the United Kingdom there is an expectation that individual SOEs will take charge of director orientation, though only in Australia is this explicitly stated (Australia, 2011, p.14). Beyond this, directors have broad discretion to make their own choices in terms of professional development. New Zealand occupies the middle ground among our case studies wherein the Ownership Expectations Manual requires SOEs to provide orientation to new directors, supplemented by documentation. The manual is also explicit as to the content of this orientation (New Zealand, 2011, p. 57). A central government perspective on SOE governance is provided by COMU as the Government’s SOE oversight body. The Canadian model highlights a more centralized approach to director orientation given the involvement of its central agencies in programme content and CSPS as its delivery agent. The New Zealand and Canadian approaches are further interesting in that each provides for an orientation programme with a whole-of-government perspective.
The differences in the modes of delivery described above also illustrate differing policy instrument choices. While Canada has enlisted CSPS to provide director orientation, the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) is not a partner in director orientation in these countries. In the United Kingdom the now defunct National School of Government4 was similarly not involved in SOE director orientation. This may also be explained by a Canadian preference for exerting control over both curriculum and delivery.
Third, we return to Reichard (1998) and observe that a balance of both education and training is necessary to ensure that senior public sector leaders possess the right mix of competencies, skills, and knowledge to discharge their duties. In the case of SOE directors, their roles differ from those of other public sector officials and that of peers on private sector boards. In both cases the differences are principally in their operating environment and relationship with the owner (the State). Thus, using Reichard’s terminology, the use of board profiles as a tool in new SOE director selection will principally measure the level of pre- recruitment education. Ensuring proficiency of new appointees must entail post-recruitment training in the one area where a government institution is best suited – the public sector environment, its organisation and mechanisms. The approaches followed in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are consistent with the propositions of Tremblay, Morneau and Pronovost (2012).  How jurisdictions approach director training will reflect institutional capacity and resources. Internationally, several models can serve as guides (see O’Neill, 2013). In this light, one can observe that in the Australia, Canada, and New Zealand approaches, director orientation is consistent with that outlined in Reichard’s framework. In the case of the UK, the laissez-faire approach would suggest a differing perspective.
Fourth, to our earlier observation about the lack of evidence concerning the benefits of directors’ orientation programmes, we note that all of the jurisdictions we reviewed support the concept of director orientation in one form or other, with Canada and New Zealand the most explicit in this regard. However, these are primarily based on qualitative and subjective statements of anticipated benefits. This aligns with McIntyre and Murphy’s (2009) previously noted observation. Though we are not opposed to virtue – and there is much virtue in promoting director education in SOE and private boards – empiricism in this area is currently lacking. This suggests opportunities for further research.
Finally, as students of public administration, our findings suggest a different understanding of the relationship between the state and SOEs among our case studies. Using the shorthand of the “arm’s length” relationship our findings suggest that New Zealand’s approach keeps its SOEs close to the body (the executive), Australia and Canada slightly further out, and the United Kingdom’s SOEs kept at some distance from Whitehall. This conclusion may have implication for further comparative research in the area of SOE governance.

1 Representatives of the following institutions following were included in the key informant interviews: Privy Council Office (Canada), Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Canada School of Public Service, Shareholder Executive (United Kingdom), Crown Ownership Management Unit (New Zealand), Institute of Corporate Directors (Australia), Treasury (New South Wales), Institute for Governance (Canada), Institute for Government (United Kingdom) as well as participating members of the International Network for Government Owned Agencies.
2 Since the completion of this research the CSPS revamped its orientation program for directors of Crown corporations by combining its two in-class offerings (Z129 and Z115) into a single course (Orientation for Crown Corporation Directors (Z156) and migrating its in-class financial literacy course to an on- line offering (CSPS, 2014a; CSPS, 2014b).
3 In February 2014 a reorganisation led to the transfer of COMU’s responsibilities to the Commercial Operations Sector of the Treasury (New Zealand, 2014).
4 The National School of Government was disestablished in 2012 as a result of a review of government agencies (United Kingdom, n.d.)


An early version of this paper was presented at workshop on Education and Training for Public Management, part of the annual conference of the International Research Society for Public Management (Prague, 2013). The author acknowledges the support of the University of Ottawa’s Academic and Professional Development Fund for enabling participation in this forum and the workshop’s participants for their comments and suggestions regarding this research. The author is also indebted to John Wilkins, Michael McIntyre, and Hans Christensen for the suggestions and input into the final draft.

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