The Contribution of Women on Boards of Directors: Going Beyond the Surface

13 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010

See all articles by Sabina Nielsen

Sabina Nielsen

Copenhagen Business School

Morten Huse

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Innovation and Economics; MH Management Consultants; University of Witten/Herdecke; BI Norwegian Business School

Abstract

The increased attention to women on corporate boards presents new challenges to governance research. In this paper we go beyond demography and open the “black box” of board behavior by drawing upon theories of gender differences and group effectiveness.

A unique survey of 201 Norwegian firms is used. The findings suggest that the ratio of women directors is positively associated with board strategic control. In addition, we find that the positive effects of women directors on board effectiveness are mediated through increased board development activities and through decreased level of conflict. However, our results show no evidence for a positive association between women directors and open debate. Nonetheless, open debate enhances board's strategic and operational control.

Recognizing the limitations of traditional governance theories to explain the role and contributions of women on corporate boards, this paper draws upon group effectiveness and gender differences theories to shed some light on whether and how women make a difference to board effectiveness in strategic and operational control.

Women's ability to make a contribution to the board may be attributable to their different leadership styles. The presence of women on corporate boards seems to increase board effectiveness through reducing the level of conflict and ensuring high quality of board development activities.

Suggested Citation

Nielsen, Sabina and Huse, Morten, The Contribution of Women on Boards of Directors: Going Beyond the Surface. Corporate Governance: An International Review, Vol. 18, Issue 2, pp. 136-148, March 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1577969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8683.2010.00784.x

Sabina Nielsen (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Morten Huse

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Innovation and Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 580
N-1302 Sandvika
Norway

MH Management Consultants ( email )

Butterudveien 32
N 1339 Vøyenenga
Vøyenenga
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://www.boardsandwine.net

University of Witten/Herdecke ( email )

Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50
Witten, 58448
Germany

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

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