Norway's Socio-Legal Journey: A Qualitative Study of Boardroom Diversity Quotas
Dhir, A. (2015). Norway’s Socio-Legal Journey: A Qualitative Study of Boardroom Diversity Quotas. Chapter 4 in Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity: Corporate Law, Governance, and Diversity. New York: Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming.
37 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014 Last revised: 28 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2015
This is chapter 4 of Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity: Corporate Law, Governance, and Diversity (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2015). In this chapter I investigate the quota-based approach to achieving gender balance in corporate boardrooms. Quotas and related target-based measures for publicly traded firms are currently in place in a number of countries, including Iceland, Belgium, France, Italy, and Norway and are at different stages of consideration in other jurisdictions, including Canada, the European Union, and Germany.
I present findings from my qualitative, interview-based study of Norwegian corporate directors in order to provide empirical elucidation of how quota-based regimes operate in practice. The identity narratives of Norwegian board members offer particularly rich sources of insight, given that Norway was the first jurisdiction to pursue the quota path and thus has the most mature quota regime. While highly contentious when adopted, the Norwegian quota project unquestionably set the stage for subsequent legislative developments in other countries.
I delve into the lived experiences of Norwegian directors who gained appointments as a result of Norway’s quota law, as well as those who held appointments before the law was enacted. Several questions frame my investigation. How have these individuals subjectively experienced, and made sense of, this intrusive form of regulation? How does legally required gender diversity affect their economic and institutional lives? And how has it shaped boardroom cultural dynamics and decision making, as well as the overall governance fabric of the board?
The forced repopulation of boards along gender lines has disturbed the traditional order of corporate governance systems, dislocating established hierarchies of power in key market-based institutions. Norway represents the paradigmatic case of this disturbance and has set in motion a wave of corporate governance reform unlike any other. As such, it constitutes a fascinating and appropriate case study through which to consider the implications of quota regimes.
Keywords: Corporate governance, corporate law, gender diversity, quotas, Norway, socio-legal research, qualitative research, semi-structured interviews
JEL Classification: K22, J71, G34, G38
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