The XX Factor: Female Managers and Innovation in a Cross-country Setting

Nicolai J. Foss*, Peggy M. Lee, Samuele Murtinu, Vittoria G. Scalera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Our understanding of the link between women managers and firm-level innovation remains incomplete. Building on recent research on gender and leadership styles, we argue that there is a positive association between women managers and firm innovation. We highlight the selection process of women managers as an important underlying mechanism and discuss institutional and environmental contingencies as factors that influence this association. Specifically, we theorize and garner empirical support for the idea that in countries with legislation that promotes legally-mandated gender quotas, underqualified women may be selected for management positions, whereas in countries with voluntary gender quotas (or quotas are entirely absent), women are predominantly selected on the basis of their qualifications. The association between women and innovation is strengthened (weakened) in the latter (former) case. We also argue that this positive relationship is stronger under conditions of environmental complexity, which typically characterize innovation activities. These predictions are supported on the basis of data from the Management, Organization and Innovation (MOI) survey which covers manufacturing firms in twelve countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101537
JournalThe Leadership Quarterly
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 19 June 2021.


  • Innovation
  • Cross-country
  • Women managers
  • Gender quotas

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