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Do Women CEOs Face Greater Threat of Shareholder Activism Compared to Male CEOs? A Role Congruity Perspective

Journal of Applied Psychology, Forthcoming

32 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2017  

Vishal Gupta

University of Mississippi - School of Business Administration

Seonghee Han

Pennsylvania State University at Abington

Sandra Mortal

University of Alabama - Culverhouse College of Commerce & Business Administration

Sabatino Silveri

University of Memphis - Fogelman College of Business and Economics

Daniel B. Turban

University of Missouri - Department of Management

Date Written: August 25, 2017

Abstract

We examine the glass cliff proposition that female CEOs receive more scrutiny than male CEOs by investigating whether CEO gender is related to threats from activist investors in public firms. Activist investors are extra-organizational stakeholders who, when dissatisfied with some aspect of the way the firm is being managed, seek to change the strategy or operations of the firm. Although some have argued that women will be viewed more favorably than men in top leadership positions (so-called ‘female leadership’ advantage logic), we build on role congruity theory to hypothesize that female CEOs are significantly more likely than male CEOs to come under threat from activist investors. Results support our predictions, suggesting that female CEOs may face additional challenges not faced by male CEOs. Practical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: role congruity theory, glass cliff, gender, shareholder activism, CEO

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Vishal and Han, Seonghee and Mortal, Sandra and Silveri, Sabatino and Turban, Daniel B., Do Women CEOs Face Greater Threat of Shareholder Activism Compared to Male CEOs? A Role Congruity Perspective (August 25, 2017). Journal of Applied Psychology, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3027096

Vishal Gupta

University of Mississippi - School of Business Administration ( email )

PO Box 3986
Oxford, MS 38677
United States

Seonghee Han

Pennsylvania State University at Abington ( email )

1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA PA 19001
United States

Sandra Mortal (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - Culverhouse College of Commerce & Business Administration ( email )

Culverhouse College of Business
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0223
United States

Sabatino Silveri

University of Memphis - Fogelman College of Business and Economics ( email )

3675 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38152
United States

Daniel B. Turban

University of Missouri - Department of Management ( email )

United States

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