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What does board capital really bring to the table?

Whitney Douglas Fernandez (Department of Management, College of Business Administration, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)
Yannick Thams (Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Mark Lehrer (Sawyer Business School, Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

American Journal of Business

ISSN: 1935-5181

Article publication date: 3 September 2019

Issue publication date: 5 November 2019




Although resource dependence theory (RDT) has substantially deepened the understanding of the function and role of boards, no systematic review of this body of work has yet been undertaken. The purpose of this paper is to synthesize prior research on the strategically relevant resources provided by board members to their organization in the light of RDT and indicate avenues for future research.


The review covers 79 research articles from 1978 to 2016 dealing with the resource provision of boards of directors.


Board capital research most often assumes a positive, linear relationship between board capital, resource provision and ultimately firm-level performance outcomes. This tendency tends to exclude from view the possibility of important trade-offs relevant to both theory and practice. Future research will need to incorporate more complex models that take into consideration nonlinear and curvilinear effects. The authors outline opportunities to advance board research by refining the methodological techniques employed.


By recommending investigation of the important trade-offs inherent in board composition, the authors seek to inspire future research that offers practical guidance for improving the effectiveness of corporate boards.



Fernandez, W.D., Thams, Y. and Lehrer, M. (2019), "What does board capital really bring to the table?", American Journal of Business, Vol. 34 No. 3/4, pp. 134-147.



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