Compliance executives often complain that they have little sense of how a “typical” compliance department operates. New research from Compliance Week shows those frustrations to be well founded.

An exclusive survey of 284 executives at more than 230 public companies paints a diverse picture of compliance today. No clear rules exist for who “owns” compliance, who reports to whom, or how much attention to give overseas business units. Even when grouped by industry, revenue, or size of workforce, only the broadest of patterns emerge.

Slightly more than 40 percent of executives who oversee compliance do have the word “compliance” in ...