Governing boards play a crucial role in ensuring that public and non-profit organizations are publicly accountable and perform well. Until now, there have been relatively few detailed empirical studies of what boards do in practice, but this book fills that gap by bringing together analyses based upon some of the best recent empirical studies. Using a new theoretical framework that highlights the paradoxical nature of governance, the book throws light on the questions at the heart of recent debates about non-profit boards: are boards publicly accountable or is there a democratic deficit? are boards able to exercise real power, or does management run the show? are boards effective stewards of an organization's resources? what effects are regulatory and other changes designed to improve board effectiveness having? This book will be essential reading for academics and students with an interest in the governance and management of public and non-profit organizations, and will also be of value to policy makers and practitioners who wish to gain a deeper understanding of how boards work and what can be done to improve their performance.