To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Differentiating clinical governance, clinical management and clinical practice

Niamh M. Brennan (Quinn School of Business, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Maureen A. Flynn (Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director, Quality and Patient Safety Directorate, Health Service Executive, Dublin, Ireland)

Clinical Governance: An International Journal

ISSN: 1477-7274

Article publication date: 19 April 2013



This paper seeks to review prior definitions of the umbrella term “clinical governance”. The research question is: do clinical governance definitions adequately distinguish between governance, management and practice functions? Three definitions are introduced to replace that umbrella term.


Content analysis is applied to analyse 29 definitions of clinical governance from the perspective of the roles and responsibilities of those charged with governance, management and practice.


The analysis indicates that definitions of the umbrella term “clinical governance” comprise a mixture of activities relating to governance, management and practice which is confusing for those expected to execute those roles.

Practical implications

Consistent with concepts from corporate governance, the paper distinguishes between governance, management and practice. For effective governance, it is important that there be division of duties between governance roles and management and practice roles. These distinctions will help to clarify roles and responsibilities in the execution of clinical activities.


Drawing on insights from corporate governance, in particular, the importance of a division of functions between governance roles, and management and practice roles, the paper proposes three new definitions to replace the umbrella term “clinical governance”.



Brennan, N.M. and Flynn, M.A. (2013), "Differentiating clinical governance, clinical management and clinical practice", Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 114-131.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited