Shared Governance Definition and Characteristics

Shared Governance is defined as processes or practices that maximize the opportunities for input/participation of staff members – at all levels – in discussions, idea sharing, input to the decision-making processes that serves to guide strategic decisions the organization and institution. It also promotes collaboration, thereby achieving optimal outcomes for the University. Shared governance assures that diverse perspectives and a collective wisdom informs our actions and provides a strong foundation for the success of the institution.

Valued characteristics of shared governance initiatives include:

  • Greater communication and transparency of communication within your organization
  • A broader understanding among the staff of the strategic goals and challenges of the organization
  • More opportunities for providing input to decision-making processes; and
  • Quickly addressing concerns and creating solutions

Some examples of shared governance models at the organization-level include:

  • An elected group/committee of staff within your organization which serves as advocates for staff and assists in the application of general University policies and programs within the organization
  • Regularly scheduled ‘town hall’ meetings at which staff can ask questions and provide feedback regarding organization-wide initiatives (e.g. strategic planning, budget, rewards and recognition, professional development, community building and philanthropic activities, etc.)
  • Organization-specific focus groups designed to provide feedback on programmatic and process improvement issues affecting the organization

What shared governance is NOT:

Shared governance does not mean that all decisions are made by consensus (committees/shared) or that all ideas have merit or will be implemented, rather shared governance promotes the opportunities for every staff member to have input.