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A vice president, also director in British English, is an officer in government or business who is below the president (chief executive officer) in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presidents, signifying that the vice president is on the executive branch of the government, university or company. The name comes from the Latin term vice meaning "in place of" and typically serves as pro tempore (Latin: ’for the time being’) to the president. In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president. In everyday speech, the abbreviation VP is used.
In government, a vice president is a person whose primary responsibility is to act in place of the president on the event of the president's death, resignation or incapacity. Vice presidents are either elected jointly with the president as their running mate, or more rarely, appointed independently after the president's election.
Most governments with vice presidents have one person in this role at any time, although in some countries there are two or more vice presidents–an extreme case being Iran's 12 vice presidents. If the president is not present, dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to fulfill their duties, the vice president will generally serve as president. In many presidential systems, the vice president does not wield much day-to-day political power, but is still considered an important member of the cabinet. A few vice presidents in the Americas also hold the position of president of the senate; this is the case, for example, in Argentina, the United States, and Uruguay. The vice president sometimes assumes some of the ceremonial duties of the president, such as attending diplomatic functions and events that the actual president may be too busy to attend; the Vice President of the United States, for example, often attends funerals of world leaders on behalf of the president. In parliamentary or semi-presidential systems, a vice president may coexist with a prime minister, as is the case in India and Namibia, but the presence of both offices concurrently is rare.
In business, "vice president" refers to hierarchical position that ranges from extremely senior positions directly reporting to C-level executives (in non-financial companies), to junior non-management positions with four to 10 years of experience (in financial companies).
In non-financial businesses, vice presidents often report directly to the president or CEO of the company and are members of the executive management team. Some corporations that use this term may have individuals with the title of vice president responsible for specific business divisions (e.g., vice president for legal, vice president for sales and marketing, vice president for finance, and vice president for human resources).
When there are several vice presidents in a company, these individuals are sometimes differentiated with titles denoting higher positions such as executive vice president or senior vice president, with the remaining management team holding the title vice president. The title of assistant vice president or associate vice president is used in large organizations below vice president and there can be a very convoluted list of other types of VPs as seen in the next section.
As many of these VPs have minimal employees reporting to them, their necessity has been questioned, with for example Inc. magazine arguing to flatten the corporate hierarchy. Similarly, as universities have adopted a corporate structure there is concern over administrative bloat and over-paying VPs. Benjamin Ginsberg, a political scientist and professor, has claimed the proliferation of VPs and other administrators is destroying universities. "Corporate vice president" is an older term that usually denotes a vice president that is named as a corporate officer by the board of directors. Not all vice presidents in a company in the modern business environment are named as an official corporate officer.
Hierarchy of vice presidents
Depending on the specific organization, the following may be an example of the hierarchy of the vice presidents:
- Senior Executive Vice President (Sr. EVP)
- Executive Vice President (EVP)
- Senior Vice President (SVP)
- First Vice President (FVP)
- Vice President (VP)
- Additional Vice President (Addl. VP)
- Assistant Vice President (Asst. VP)
- Joint Vice President (Jt. VP)
- Associate Vice President (Asso. VP)
|Rank||U.S. executive officer||UK executive officer||Investment bank executive officer||Asia Pacific executive officer|
|1||President||Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer||President||President|
|2||Deputy President or FEVP or SEVP or EVP||Deputy Managing Director||Deputy President or SEVP or EVP||Deputy President|
|3||Executive VP, Group VP||Executive Director||Senior Managing Director||Executive VP|
|4||Senior VP||Director||Managing Director||Senior VP|
|5||Corporate VP or Vice President||Deputy Director||Executive Director||Corporate VP|
This comparison is not strictly correct, as director is a legal term, meaning someone registered with the relevant country's company registrar (or simply named in the legal documents, for countries not having company registration) as having managerial control of the company, and having legal responsibility for its operation, whilst a vice president does not. In either case the responsibilities may be overall to the company, a region (US, EMEA, CEE...), business unit or function such as sales, marketing, IT etc.
In financial services companies
In brokerage firms, investment banks and other financial companies, "vice president" is a seniority rank that denotes higher responsibility, though such need not be managerial. The title does not denote an actual managerial position within the company, but often a role relatively junior to the executive board. Financial services companies have multiple vice presidents, possibly because the title is a form of delayering when an employee can not be moved higher in the organization but still deserves recognition. In most cases, the title merely implies that someone is in a medium-seniority individual contributor role.
In other organizations
In other organizations (e.g., trade unions, societies, clubs) one or multiple vice presidents are elected by the members of the organization. When multiple vice presidents are elected, the positions are usually numbered to prevent confusion as to who may preside or succeed to the office of president upon vacancy of that office (for example: first vice president, second vice president, and so on). In some cases vice presidents are given titles due to their specific responsibilities, for example: vice president of operations, finance, etc. In some associations the first vice president can be interchangeable with executive vice president and the remaining vice presidents are ranked in order of their seniority.
The primary responsibility of the vice president of a club or organization is to be prepared to assume the powers and duties of the office of the president in the case of a vacancy in that office. If the office of president becomes vacant, the vice president (or in clubs with multiple vice presidents, the VP that occupies the highest-ranking office), will assume the office of president, with the lower vice presidents to fill in the remaining vice presidencies, leaving the lowest vice presidency to be filled by either election or appointment. If the bylaws of a club specifically provide of the officer title of president-elect, that officer would assume the powers and duties of the president upon vacancy of that office only if specified in the bylaws.
- "vice", etymologyonlive.com
- "3 Reasons to Eliminate Hierarchy in Your Company". Inc.com. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- "The Slow Death of the University". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 6 April 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- "Research scores of US top brass fail to shine". Timeshighereducation.com. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
- Pearce, Joshua (2016). "Are you overpaying your academic executive team? A method for detecting unmerited academic executive compensation". Tertiary Education and Management. 22 (3): 189–201. doi:10.1080/13583883.2016.1181198.
- Benjamin Ginsberg. The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (2011). Oxford University Press.
- According to The Economist, on the website LinkedIn, the title of vice-president grew 426% faster than website membership growth, from 2005 to 2009
- "The Legal Pitfalls of Job Title Inflation (Part I): Apparent Authority and Employee Misclassification". Association of Corporate Counsel. 2013.
- Robert, Henry M.; et al. (2011). Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. pp. 457–458. ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5.
- National Association of Parliamentarians® (1993). Spotlight on You the Vice-President or President-Elect. Independence, MO: National Association of Parliamentarians®. ISBN 978-1-884048-203.