Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 978: Changing the Corporate Elite? Not So Easy. Female Directors’ Appointments onto Corporate Boards

Aleksandra Gregoric (), Lars Oxelheim (), Trond Randøy and Steen Thomsen
Additional contact information
Aleksandra Gregoric: Department of International Economics and Management, Postal: Center for Corporate Governance, Copenhagen Business School
Lars Oxelheim: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Trond Randøy: University of Agder, Postal: School of Management
Steen Thomsen: Department of International Economics and Management, Postal: Center for Corporate Governance, Copenhagen Business School

Abstract: Scholars have previously investigated country and organizational-level factors associated with the incidence of female directors on boards. These studies, however, cannot explain why, in countries with strong gender equality and pressure for female directorships, firms are still hesitant to promote new women to their boards. To address this issue we – in this study – introduce the cognitive and affective processes related to directors’ identification with the traditional corporate elite as an explanation for the slow organizational response to pressure for gender diversity on boards. We bridge the social identity and critical mass theory to further show how these responses may vary with the current composition of the board. Viewing the board as a locus for the maintenance of the positive distinctiveness of the established corporate elite, we conjecture that new female appointments will not only depend on the current share of women on board but also on the current (minority) share of board positions held by male directors who are not prototypical of the established elite. We also uncover how this relationship is moderated by the share of institutional investors’ ownership. We test and support these propositions on a sample of 387 publicly traded Nordic corporations during 2001–2008.

Keywords: Social identity; Board of director; Gender diversity

JEL-codes: D22; F23; F66; G34; M16

33 pages, September 19, 2013

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