Board diversity and R & D investment

Jeanelle Midavaine ( University of Groningen Groningen Netherlands )
Wilfred Dolfsma ( University of Groningen Groningen Netherlands )
Rick Aalbers ( Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands )

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 3 March 2016



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of board diversity on the extent to which firms invest in R&D.


Based on data collected about the composition of the board of directors, we determine statistically if the characteristics of directors predicts the extent to which firms invest more in R&D.


We find, unexpectedly, that tenure diversity lead firms to invest less in R&D, while education diversity and gender diversity makes firms invest more. Gender diversity positively moderates education diversity as well, strengthening the effect found.

Research limitations/implications

The sample of firms we include in our paper is restricted due to the overwhelming difficulty in collecting data about the composition of boards of directors, and their backgrounds.

Practical implications

The paper offers insights into how boards of directors might need to be composed in order to try have firms invest more in R&D.


We include a much larger set of diversity measures than any previously published study, and provide counter-intuitive findings that have implications for practice, society, as well as theory about team composition.


Midavaine, J., Dolfsma, W. and Aalbers, R. (2016), "Board diversity and R & D investment", Management Decision, Vol. 54 No. 3.

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