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Director-general (plural directors-general), or general director, is a title given to the highest executive officer within a governmental, statutory, NGO, third sector or not-for-profit institution. It is commonly used in many countries worldwide, but often with different meanings. Although in most countries it has a business or civil service connotation, in the United States the term "general director" typically refers to the administrative head of an opera house.


In most Australian states, the director-general is the most senior civil servant in any government department, reporting only to the democratically-elected minister representing that department. In Victoria and the Australian Government, the equivalent position is the secretary of the department.

The Australian Defence Force Cadets has three Directors-General which are all One-star rank's;


In Canada, the title director general is used in the federal civil service, known as the Public Service of Canada. A director general in the federal government is typically not the most senior civil servant in a department. Directors general typically report to a more senior civil servant, such as an assistant deputy minister or associate deputy minister. The title director general is not usually used within the civil services of the ten provincial governments, nor the three territorial governments; instead, these civil services usually use the title executive director, or director. Deputy ministers are the highest level bureaucrat within the Canadian civil service at the federal, provincial and territorial levels. Deputy Ministers are not politicians but professional bureaucrats. Outside the federal, provincial and territorial civil services, some public sector agencies such as school boards in Quebec use the title the director general.

European Union

ESO and ESA Directors-general sign cooperation agreement.[1]

In the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, each department (called a directorate-general) is headed by a non-political director-general. This is roughly equivalent to a British permanent secretary.


In France, the similar word président-directeur général (short: PDG) means the highest person in a company, who is in same time chairman (président) of board of directors and CEO (directeur général). From 2001 the two charges may be disjointed. The directeur général délégué has a role similar to a chief operating officer.

French ministries are divided in general directorates (directions générales), sometimes named central directorates (directions centrales) or simply directorates (directions), headed respectively by a directeur général, a directeur central, or a directeur.


In Germany, Generaldirektor may be used for the CEO of a large and established concern, corporation, company or enterprise, particularly if inferiors have the title director. The title is, however, unofficial (theoretically any person, and even practically every entrepreneur with one employee, may call himself director-general) and by now largely out of use. Officially a GmbH has a Geschäftsführer ("managing director ") and an Aktiengesellschaft a board of executive directors (Vorstand) with a chairman (Vorstandsvorsitzender).

The term is also used by German Institute Taipei, Germany's informal representative mission to the Republic of China (Taiwan), to refer to its Head of mission.[2]


In India, there is a Director General of Police and Director General of Income Tax in each state. Indian Coast Guard is headed by Director General of Indian Coast Guard (DGICG).National Security Guard is headed by Director General of National Security Guard


In Italy, the direttore generale of a company is a corporate officer who reports to CEO (amministratore delegato) and has duties similar to a chief operating officer.

Some Italian ministries are divided in departments (dipartimenti) who are in turn divided in general directorates (direzioni generali) headed by a direttore generale; other ministries, who haven't departments, are directly divided in general directorates. In Italian provinces and greatest communes direttore generale is a chief administrative officer nominated by president of province or by mayor. The title of direttore generale is also given to the chief executive of an azienda sanitaria, a local public agency for health services.


A general director is the highest executive position in a Russian company, analogous to a US chief executive officer (CEO), or a UK managing director. The position exists for all Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) legal forms (e.g. joint stock companies (AO) and limited-liability companies (OOO)) except for sole proprietorships (IP).[3]

The general director is the "single-person executive body" of a company. He or she acts without power of attorney to represent the company, and issues powers of attorney to others. His or her powers are defined by the company charter, by decision of the general meeting of shareholders (AO) or participants (OOO), and by the board of directors.[4]


In Spain, México, and other Spanish-speaking countries, the term "director general" of a company (similar to a US corporation) is either the general manager or CEO of the company.


In Sweden, the similar word generaldirektör (short:GD) means the head of a government agency.[5]

United Kingdom

In the UK, director-general is the professional head of an executive agency which contains other agencies headed by directors. For example the chief executive of the British Broadcasting Corporation is called the director-general. The head of the UK's internal security service MI5 is also a director-general, who operates at Permanent Secretary (Grade 1) level. (See British Civil Service#Grading schemes for details.) Within Ministerial departments, a Director General is the second most senior grade of in the civil service, heading up a large section of that department's business. They report to the Permanent Secretary for that department.

United States

This term is used in international organisations and government departments, although this sort of position is more commonly called an "executive director" or "managing director" in the United States.

Typically, the chief administrative officer of an opera company in the US holds the title of "General Director". Such is the case with singer and conductor Plácido Domingo, who currently functions in that capacity for the Los Angeles Opera, as he had previously for the Washington National Opera. In another prominent example, Speight Jenkins served as the general director of the Seattle Opera for over three decades. General directors are often responsible for artistic decisions, such as which operas to perform and which singers to hire, in addition to financial matters. The Metropolitan Opera is one of the few exceptions among US opera houses; the head of its administration is known as a "general manager" rather than a general director.


  1. "ESO and ESA Directors General Sign Cooperation Agreement". Retrieved 25 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Director General and the individual sections". German Institute Taipei.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bird, Richard (1992). Improving Tax Administration in Developing Countries, Том 19. Russia: International Monetary Fund. p. 344.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Russia Company Laws and Regulations Handbook. International Business Publications, USA. ISBN 1433070529.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Generaldirektör on Swedish Wikipedia