Appointing Female CEOS in Risky and Precarious Firm Circumstances. A Review of the Glass Cliff Phenomenon
Corporate Ownership & Control, Volume 15, Issue 2, Winter 2018
11 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2018 Last revised: 28 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 5, 2018
Following thirty years of discussion of the “glass ceiling,” recent empirical research has focused on the relatively new phenomenon of women on the board of directors — the so-called “glass cliff.” This refers to a form of gender discrimination in which women are more often appointed to leadership positions in risky and precarious business circumstances than their male counterparts. Highlighting the key findings of current quantitative and qualitative research, this literature review assesses existing support for the glass cliff hypothesis and the limitations of empirical research and recommendations. Most of the included studies find support for the glass cliff, in which “think crisis, think female” stereotypes complement the traditional “think leadership, think male” approach. As archival and other studies have been conducted predominantly in Anglo-American countries, future research should extend to other methods and settings. In contrast to the recent literature, the present review draws a clear distinction between archival, experimental and qualitative research, so increasing interest and relevance for practitioners, regulators and researchers.
Keywords: gender diversity, corporate governance, firm performance, glass ceiling, glass cliff, board of directors
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