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Board diversity and firm efficiency: evidence from China

Farman Ali (School of Accounting, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)
Man Wang (School of Accounting, Internal Control Research Centre in China, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)
Khalil Jebran (School of Business Administration, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)
Syed Tauseef Ali (School of Accounting, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 3 February 2021

Issue publication date: 26 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to explore how multiple facets of board diversity influence technical efficiency (TE) and total factor productivity (TFP).


The authors measure board diversity in two dimensions: relation-related dimension (age and gender) and task-related dimension (tenure, education and expertise). The authors use a balanced panel data of 806 nonfinancial Chinese firms over the period 2009–2017. The authors use a two-stage approach for analysis. In the first stage, the authors use a non-parametric frontier approach to calculate the TE and factor productivity scores. In the second stage, the authors regressed these scores on board diversity attributes (relation-related diversity and task-related diversity).


By using tobit regression and two-step system GMM, the authors find that board diversity improves TE and TFP. The authors’ analyses illustrate that a higher diversity on corporate board (in terms of age, gender, tenure, education and expertise) positively influence firm efficiency.

Practical implications

The findings have important implications for policymakers. The findings suggest that regulators should devise policies to encourage board diversity. Because a diverse board can bring knowledge, skills, abilities, expertise and experience of diverse group members, which will ultimately enhance a firm’s efficiency. Especially, in the emerging markets (such as China), there is still a need for standard governance mechanisms; therefore, the authors suggest that policymakers should develop regulations and promote diversity of directors as one of the factors for improving the governance mechanisms, which will ultimately improve firms productivity.


Prior studies mostly considered only one dimension (such as gender) of diversity and, therefore, have overlooked how other dimensions influence firms. The authors consider several dimensions of diversity and quantify them into relation-related (age and gender) and task-related (tenure, education and expertise) attributes and show how they influence firms’ efficiency. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to comprehensively investigate how several facets of diversity influence a firm’s TE and TFP.



Ali, F., Wang, M., Jebran, K. and Ali, S.T. (2021), "Board diversity and firm efficiency: evidence from China", Corporate Governance, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 587-607.



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