Ljiljana Erakovic

Ljiljana is an Associate Professor in the Department of Management and International Business. Her current research is focussed on organisational governance, an area in which she has developed several projects.

Ljiljana Erakovic, Associate Professor, Department of Management and International Business
Ljiljana Erakovic, Department of Management and International Business

Opening up the black box: Exploring the crucial interface between leadership and governance processes

Researchers: Associate Professor Ljiljana Erakovic (principal investigator), Professor Susan Watson (Faculty of Law/Business School, University of Auckland), Associate Professor Chris Noonan (Faculty of Law, University of Auckland), Professor Brad Jackson (Griffith University) and Dr Monique Cikaliuk (postdoctoral fellow).  

This research involved scholars from the fields of law and organisation studies examining corporate governance concepts and asking thought-provoking questions, such as: “What is the nature of a company in modern society?” and “How is the board’s work influenced in light of the previous question?” The nature of a company is a conceptual area of law, whereas the work of the board, or board functioning, belongs more to organisation studies.

Discussion between organisation studies scholars and legal scholars led to a discovery that a legal definition/perception of a company shapes the internal corporate structure, board responsibilities, and the degrees of freedom in relationships between the board and corporate stakeholders. In this sense, leadership researchers, with their emphasis on personal traits and leadership styles, could be accused of being legally naïve. On the other hand, our very own legal scholars discovered that their conventional disciplinary domains are at the very least incomplete; and that a theory of corporate law which does not recognise the relationships and processes of influence within the corporation is similarly incomplete.

More importantly, in their endeavour to advance the understanding of a complex phenomenon such as a board of directors, the researchers had a “thrilling and inspiring experience” interacting with people who practise governance in real organisations. Their stories, views, knowledge, and experience painted a powerful picture of overlapping attributes and elements of leadership in governance, pushing the investigation beyond the boundaries of traditional ivory-tower-enclosed disciplines.

Five large New Zealand organisations and their boards participated in the research: Air New Zealand, Bank of New Zealand, Auckland International Airport, Briscoe Group and Genesis Energy.

The five-year research project has resulted in ten comprehensive teaching case studies illustrating the complexity of decision-making by boards in New Zealand organisations, and has generated many academic publications, conference papers and presentations.