Making Boards Effective: An Empirical Examination of Board Task Performance

20 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2009

See all articles by Alessandro Minichilli

Alessandro Minichilli

Bocconi University - School of Management; Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Alessandro Zattoni

University of Bocconi - Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management

Fabio Zona

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Abstract

Despite the increasing attention of management scholars to boards of directors, there is still scant evidence on the antecedents of board task performance. The lack of significant results seems to be due to some theoretical and methodological choices followed by scholars, i.e. the almost exclusive reliance on agency theory and the use of demographic data. Following the call for dismantling the fortresses dominating past studies, this paper contributes to opening the black box of boards of directors, developing a conceptual model that considers the impact of board members' diversity, commitment and critical debate on board task effectiveness in performing its service and control tasks. We collected primary data through a questionnaire survey, and we tested the model controlling for board, firm and industry characteristics. Our findings suggest that (i) the predictors we identified, and particularly the board members' commitment, are far more important than board demographics to predict board task performance; (ii) firm and industry contexts exert a significant influence on board task performance; (iii) predictors have a different impact on specific sets of tasks. Thus, our findings support the idea that several board characteristics and contingencies at both industry and firm level must be acknowledged in board design.

Suggested Citation

Minichilli, Alessandro and Zattoni, Alessandro and Zona, Fabio, Making Boards Effective: An Empirical Examination of Board Task Performance. British Journal of Management, Vol. 20, Issue 1, pp. 55-74, March 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1335574 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2008.00591.x

Alessandro Minichilli (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - School of Management ( email )

Via Bocconi 8
Milan, Milan 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Alessandro Zattoni

University of Bocconi - Strategic and Entrepreneurial Management ( email )

Via Bocconi 8
Milan, Milan 20136
Italy

Fabio Zona

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

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