The board of directors is the real power broker of a British company with all key decisions being made at this level.
All PLCs (publicly quoted companies) must have at least two directors who are appointed by and accountable to the shareholders. The chairperson or the CEO leads the board.
Many of the UKs larger companies have non-executive directors who act as outside, impartial experts, as well as often providing links with government and the civil service. This usage of non-executive directors has some parallels with the continental European two-tier system of senior management but is not as all-pervasive and non-execs can be resented by the executive directors.
Although traditionally hierarchical in structure, many British firms have moved towards a flatter, less bureaucratic approach. This has also resulted in a certain lack of shape, with boundaries and responsibilities being blurred. It can be difficult to get a clear picture of the structure of a British company, with even employees being unclear as to the exact remit of their jobs. As a result, job descriptions tend to be somewhat vague and imprecise with little clear guidance on specific tasks to be undertaken.