Resistance to Change in the Corporate Elite: Female Directors' Appointments onto Nordic Boards

Aleksandra Gregoric, Lars Oxelheim, Trond Randoy, Steen Thomsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    In this empirical study, we investigate the variation in firms’ response to institutional pressure for gender-balanced boards, focusing specifically on the preservation of prevailing practices of director selection and its impact on the representation of women on the board of directors. Using 8 years of data from publicly listed Nordic corporations, we show societal pressure to be one of the determinants of female directorship. Moreover, in some corporations, the director selection process may work to maintain “a traditional type of board”. In such boards, demographic diversity among male members appears to be associated with a lower share of female directors, although we cannot establish wether this reflects discrimination or a desire to maintain critical competencies. With this paper we add to the theoretical understanding of the factors underlying female board appointments by adopting an institutional theory lens to study female board representation. Viewing the demands for gender-balanced boards in terms of societal pressure for the de-institutionalization of the prevailing norms and practices, we highlight preferences for maintaining established practices as a potentially important barrier to institutional change. On these grounds, we conjecture on the relationship between the gender diversity of boards and other diversity dimensions. We suggest that a board room gender quota (if implemented) is supplemented by policies to ensure the transparency of board changes, in order to prevent the crowding out of other diversity dimensions.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume141
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)267-287
    Number of pages21
    ISSN0167-4544
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • Board of directors
    • Gender diversity
    • Gender quota
    • Board diversity
    • Corporate elite

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