As against single headship there is plural or Board or Commission type headship. In this system headship is not vested in one single individual but in a board or commission. Each board or commission is however, headed by a chairman.
This type of headship is both useful and advantageous in organisations where policies and techniques have to be put on sound footings and where discussions and new techniques are to be developed.
The system is very useful for the organisations where collective interests are to be reconciled. Even this system is a good check on the use of discretionary powers. Collective decisions usually have maturity and give benefit of knowledge. In this type of headship, there is psychological satisfaction that all the decisions will be taken impartially. It is believed that partial attitude of one head will be countered by the other.
Following types of Board or Commissions are commonly found in administration: (i) The Administrative Board; (ii) The Regulatory Commission; (iii) Permanent Advisory Boards; (iv) Board tied into hierarchy; (v) The Bipartisan Boards.
After the Second World War extensive use has been made of some new types of agencies to perform complex functions undertaken by governments all over the world. In India, too, there has been a proliferation of new agencies and organisations since Independence. Numerous boards, commissions, corporations and companies have been established, both by the Central and State Governments, for performing functions like conducting elections and examinations, regulating trade, commerce, transport and communication and rendering financial assistance.
These bodies can be classified on two different bases: First, classification according to the nature of their authority; and Second, classification on the basis of their legal status. We can divide these bodies into three categories according to the nature of their authority, that is to say, (i) Whether a board/ commission is purely advisory which will include boards like Small-Scale Industries Board; (ii) Whether a board/commission combines policy making and administrative directions, like the Planning Commission; and (iii) Whether a board/commission not only makes policy and gives administrative directions but also executes the policies, like the Railway Board or the Atomic Energy Commission.
On the basis of their legal status these bodies can be classified into three categories: In the first category we can place constitutional commissions like the Election Commission, the Union Public Service Commission, the Finance Commission, and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities.
The second category could be of those boards/ commissions which are created by an Act of Parliament and known as statutory bodies like the University Grants Commission, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, National Commission for Minorities, the National Commission for Backward Classes, and the National Commission for Women.
The third category could include such boards/commissions which have been created by an executive order or by a resolution of the Union Government and could be termed as attached boards or commissions placed directly under the control of relevant ministries. In this category we may place the Planning Commission, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Central Social Welfare Board, Staff Selection Commission, the All India Handloom Board, etc.
Yet another basis of classification could be the consideration whether a board or commission is a substitute for the ministry or department or an agency under it. The examples of such substitute bodies are the Railway Board, the Atomic Energy Commission, etc. These bodies could be suitably called administrative boards or commissions.