Across different organisations and sectors, Boards may be set up, elected or appointed in different ways. Their responsibilities and duties may vary greatly, but their core role often remains the same.
The Board, traditionally speaking, is there to direct the organisation. This is usually done through four core responsibilities: strategy formulation, policy-making, supervision of the executive, and ensuring accountability to its stakeholders.
When formulating strategy, the board usually must work with senior management to develop a mission, long term vision and high-level objectives for the organisation. The Board then needs to monitor and supervise the activities of the executives to ensure that the organisation continues to progress towards its long-term aims. The Board should ensure accountability to stakeholders by reporting externally on their stewardship and on the performance of the organisation.
Alternative board structures exist, where the traditional role of the Board is not quite as appropriate. Advisory boards can sometimes be found in the Irish public sector, where the Board's role there is to provide advice and recommendations on the Strategy or the organisation's policies, but does not have formal executive authority