The governance of non-profit micro finance institutions: Lessons from history
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMersland, R. (2009). The governance of non-profit micro finance institutions: lessons from history. Journal of Management & Governance, 15(3), 327-348. doi: 10.1007/s10997-009-9116-7
Microfinance is high on the public agenda, and better corporate governance has been identified as a key factor for enhancing the viability of the industry. However, recent literature on the subject struggles to identify the corporate governance mechanisms that influence the performance of the Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). Guided by stakeholder and agency theories, this paper uses a historical parallel found in savings banks to present corporate governance lessons for MFIs, particularly non-profit MFIs, today. The findings indicate that monitoring by bank associations, depositors, donors, and local communities was important in securing the survival of savings banks. In addition, a willingness to expand their mission to serve wealthier customers alongside the poor helped the banks become financially viable. These findings could prompt a rethinking of microfinance governance, which stresses regulation, for-profit ownership, and traditional vertical board control. The paper argues that a broader and more stakeholder-based understanding of corporate governance is necessary. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that historical studies can provide governance lessons for today.
Published version of an article in the journal: Journal of Management & Governance. Also available from Springer: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10997-009-9116-7