Recent investigations into the activities of nonprofit hospitals have pointed to weak or lax governance on the part of some of these organizations. As a result of these events, various federal and state initiatives are now either under way or under discussion to strengthen the governance of hospitals and other nonprofit corporations through mandatory board structures and practices. However, despite policy makers' growing interest in these types of governance reforms, there is in fact little empirical evidence to support their contribution to the effectiveness of hospital boards. The purpose of this article is to report the results of a study examining the relationship between the structure and practices of nonprofit hospital boards relative to the hospital's provision of community benefits. Our results point to modest relationships between these sets of variables, suggesting considerable limitations to what federal and state policy makers can accomplish through legislative initiatives to improve the governance of nonprofit hospitals.

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