We compiled details of over 8000 assessments of protected area management effectiveness across the world and developed a method for analyzing results across diverse assessment methodologies and indicators. Data was compiled and analyzed for over 4000 of these sites. Management of these protected areas varied from weak to effective, with about 40% showing major deficiencies. About 14% of the surveyed areas showed significant deficiencies across many management effectiveness indicators and hence lacked basic requirements to operate effectively. Strongest management factors recorded on average related to establishment of protected areas (legal establishment, design, legislation and boundary marking) and to effectiveness of governance; while the weakest aspects of management included community benefit programs, resourcing (funding reliability and adequacy, staff numbers and facility and equipment maintenance) and management effectiveness evaluation. Estimations of management outcomes, including both environmental values conservation and impact on communities, were positive. We conclude that in spite of inadequate funding and management process, there are indications that protected areas are contributing to biodiversity conservation and community well-being.