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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2006

Morten Huse and Anne Grethe Solberg

The objective of this article is to examine and conceptualise gender‐related boardroom dynamics that affect how women can make contributions on corporate boards.

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this article is to examine and conceptualise gender‐related boardroom dynamics that affect how women can make contributions on corporate boards.

Design/methodology/approach

Stories were collected from eight women directors about their experiences from more than 100 corporate boards. Narrative methods were used in the data analysis.

Findings

Women as well as men need to understand the power game inside and outside the boardroom. Their contribution depends on the ability and willingness to make alliances with the most influential actors, to spend time on preparations, being present on the most important decision‐making arenas, and to take leadership roles.

Practical implications

The study has implications for theory as well as practice. Process‐oriented theories should be included in studies of boards and governance, and the study showed that boardroom dynamics are not neutral to gender. Concepts and relationships are suggested that should be included in further theory development. The study has also given several practical examples and suggestions on how women can make contributions on corporate boards.

Originality/value

The study has value for developing the role of women directors.

Details

Women in Management Review, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0964-9425

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Article
Publication date: 28 January 2014

Pieter-Jan Bezemer, Stefan Peij, Laura de Kruijs and Gregory Maassen

This study seeks to explore how non-executive directors address governance problems on Dutch two-tier boards. Within this board model, challenges might be particularly

Abstract

Purpose

This study seeks to explore how non-executive directors address governance problems on Dutch two-tier boards. Within this board model, challenges might be particularly difficult to address due to the formal separation of management boards' decision-management from supervisory boards' decision-control roles.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire among non-executive directors provide unique insights into three major challenges in the boardrooms of two-tier boards in The Netherlands.

Findings

The study indicates that non-executive directors mainly experience challenges in three areas: the ability to ask management critical questions, information asymmetries between the management and supervisory boards and the management of the relationship between individual executive and non-executive directors. The qualitative in-depth analysis reveals the complexity of the contributing factors to problems in the boardroom and the range of process and social interventions non-executive directors use to address boardroom issues with management and the organization of the board.

Practical implications

While policy makers have been largely occupied with the “right” board composition, the results highlight the importance of adequately addressing operational challenges in the boardroom. The results emphasize the importance of a better understanding of board processes and the need of non-executive directors to carefully manage relationships in and around the boardroom.

Originality/value

Whereas most studies have focussed on regulatory initiatives to improve the functioning of boards (e.g. the independence of the board), this study explores how non-executive directors attempt to enhance the effectiveness of boards on which they serve.

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Article
Publication date: 6 June 2016

Karim S. Rebeiz

Boardroom’s effectiveness has emerged as an issue of considerable importance in the minds of academics and practitioners, particularly in the aftermath of the highly…

Abstract

Purpose

Boardroom’s effectiveness has emerged as an issue of considerable importance in the minds of academics and practitioners, particularly in the aftermath of the highly visible corporate governance scandals of the past few decades. The purpose of this paper is to shed new lights on this topic by proposing a robust design framework for boardroom’s effectiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

The interpretative investigation is based on semi-structured interviews administered to directors of Fortune 500 firms. The adopted thematic analysis is phenomenology, or the feelings, experiences and perceptions of events as depicted first hand by individuals with significant boardroom’s experience.

Findings

Two central findings could be construed from this investigation. First, the optimum boardroom’s configuration is not a universal proposition. In other words, there are no magic recipes, and no one-size fits all approach. Rather, the optimum boardroom’s configuration ought to be framed in light of the overarching needs of the firm in relation to the dynamic forces in the external environment. Second, the design of boardrooms ought to span beyond structural aspects (i.e. the outwardly visible aspects) to also encompass two largely unobserved boardroom’s phenomena, namely, the directorship personal trait factors and the directorship behavioral patterns.

Research limitations/implications

The findings presented herein may be contaminated with cognitive and personal biases, a common and unavoidable occurrence in qualitative research. A more integrative research approach using inductive and deductive techniques would allow for triangulation of results, thus providing an additional dose of validity and relevance to the research findings.

Practical implications

There has been a growing disenchantment about the modus operandi of the board of directors among practitioners, particularly as it pertains to large corporations with diffuse and heterogeneous shareholders and stakeholders. New design guidelines for the board of directors would directly impact on corporate practices.

Social implications

The design of high performance boardrooms is instrumental to shareholders, policymakers, directors, executives, rank and file employees, suppliers, customers and other direct and indirect stakeholders, as it may help avert future corporate governance mishaps.

Originality/value

As of today, the academic and popular literature has yet to provide unequivocal guidance for the development of high performance boardrooms. This study fills an important gap in the prevailing corporate governance literature by integrating both structural and socio-cognitive factors into the design framework of the board of directors.

Details

Corporate Governance, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-0701

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Article
Publication date: 11 December 2019

Nick Beech, Jeff Gold, Susan Beech and Tricia Auty

This paper aims to explore the impact discourse has on decision making practices within the boardroom and considers how personal proficiency in micro-language use can…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the impact discourse has on decision making practices within the boardroom and considers how personal proficiency in micro-language use can enhance an individual’s personal efficacy in influencing boardroom decisions. The work uses Habermas’ theory of communicative action to critique board talk, highlighting the need for greater understanding of the power of everyday taken for granted talk in strategy shaping. It illuminates the contribution that human resource development (HRD) professionals can make to the management of such behaviour and minimising dysfunctional behaviour and enabling effective boardroom practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Traditional governance theory from a business and organisational perspectives are provided before considering the boardroom environment and HRD’s role. The authors undertake ethnographic research supported by conversation analysis to explore how directors use talk-based interpersonal routines to influence boardroom processes and enact collective decision making. The authors provide one extract of directors’ talk to illustrate the process and demonstrate what the data “looks like” and the insights it holds.

Findings

The analysis suggests that the established underlying assumptions and rationale ideologies of corporate governance are misplaced and to understand the workings of corporate governance HRD academics and professionals need to gain deeper insight into the employment of talk within boards. Armed with such insights HRD professionals can become more effective in developing strategies to address dysfunctional leadership and promote good governance practice throughout their organisation.

Social implications

The work raises a call for HRD to embrace a societal mediation role to help boards to become a catalyst for setting good practice which is strategically aligned throughout the organisation. Such roles require a more dialogical, strategic and critical approach to HRD, and professionals and academics take a more holistic approach to leadership development.

Originality/value

The paper considers the role of the development of HRD interventions that both help individuals to work more effectively within a boardroom environment and support development to shape a boardroom culture that promotes effective governance practice by influencing boardroom practice thereby promoting strong governance and broad social compliance throughout the organisation.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 44 no. 2/3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2008

Colin Coulson‐Thomas

This paper aims to share the findings of investigations into how directors have and should be prepared for their boardroom roles.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to share the findings of investigations into how directors have and should be prepared for their boardroom roles.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on the findings of surveys of director development undertaken by the author and others and the author's experience of advising over 100 boards on director and board development.

Findings

The findings suggest many directors and boards do not receive the development they require to be more effective in their roles. Trainers and developers interested in addressing their requirements need to understand the development role of the chairman of the board, the distinct nature of director development, obstacles to development at board level, the learning preferences of directors and formal and informal learning options that are available and ask key questions to assess the development context.

Practical implications

The surveys examined have mainly involved UK directors and unitary boards. The situation might be different in other countries. It would be helpful if more studies were undertaken of director and board development in other contexts and involving different board structures, e.g. two‐tier or management and supervisory boards. Directors need a proper induction and must remain current throughout their directorial career. Trainers and developers can address this requirement by a combination of formal and informal means.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the nature of the director development challenge, and that the boardroom represents a key learning environment. The paper should be of value to those who support directors and boards and have an interest in improving the competence of directors and the effectiveness of boards.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 40 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

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Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Colin Coulson‐Thomas

The purpose of this paper is to share the findings of investigations into the competences that an effective director should have. It draws upon the findings of surveys of

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to share the findings of investigations into the competences that an effective director should have. It draws upon the findings of surveys of director development undertaken by the author and others and the author's experience of advising over 100 boards on director and board development.

Design/methodology/approach

The surveys examined have mainly involved UK directors and unitary boards. The situation might be different in other countries. It would be helpful if more studies were undertaken of director and board development in other contexts and involving different board structures, e.g. two tier or management and supervisory boards.

Findings

The findings suggest it is possible to identify, categorize and prioritize the competences that directors require to be more effective in their roles. Trainers and developers interested in addressing directorial competence requirements need to understand the distinction between direction and management, and between deficiencies that require individual and collective action, the boardroom context and concerns directors may themselves have about the assessment of their competences. There are certain questions they need to ask to assess the development requirement.

Practical implications

The competences of individual directors and those of the board as a whole should be periodically reviewed, particularly as the membership of a board changes and it faces new challenges. Trainers and developers can address this requirement by sensitively handling any concerns directors may have about the process used.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the nature of the competences required by a competent director and the challenge of assessing, categorizing, prioritizing and addressing competence deficiencies. The paper should be of value to those who support directors and boards and have an interest in improving the competence of directors and the effectiveness of boards.

Details

Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0019-7858

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 4 September 2020

Payal Kumar and Ganesh Singh

Abstract

Details

Gender Equity in the Boardroom: The Case of India
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-764-8

Content available
Article
Publication date: 3 June 2019

Klaas Heemskerk

Over the past decades, growing interest in the behaviour of boards of directors has brought forth empirical studies on actual board behaviour. An important stream within…

Abstract

Purpose

Over the past decades, growing interest in the behaviour of boards of directors has brought forth empirical studies on actual board behaviour. An important stream within this research followed the model proposed by Forbes and Milliken in 1999 in which the board processes, effort norms, cognitive conflict and the use of knowledge, are hypothesized to influence the performance of boards of directors. This paper aims to take stock of the results from this stream of research. The sometimes inconsistent results, and assumed methodological flaws of this research, leave open the question whether it makes sense to continue with this line of research.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a research synthesis of 17 primary studies on (parts of) the model proposed by Forbes and Milliken (1999), this question is addressed directly by clarifying what is known from the research done so far and by identifying possible distorting methodological moderators.

Findings

Strong empirical support is found for the effect of effort norms and the use of knowledge and skills on board task performance. The evidence for cognitive conflicts however was found to be inconclusive. Common method and respondent bias seem to be a lesser concern than often stated.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies should not only look closely at the construct validity of conflict, but should also have to account for the multidimensionality of conflicts and the interdependency and endogeneity in the relationship between behaviour and performance in boards.

Originality/value

This is the first paper that systematically integrates and reviews the empirical results of the research following the Forbes and Milliken model and sketches roads for future research on board behaviour.

Details

Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, vol. 19 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-0701

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Article
Publication date: 4 February 2020

Rocio Martinez-Jimenez, María Jesús Hernández-Ortiz and Ana Isabel Cabrera Fernández

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the mediating role of board effectiveness (understood as the capacity to efficiently manage and control all functions to guarantee…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the mediating role of board effectiveness (understood as the capacity to efficiently manage and control all functions to guarantee the company’s prosperity) in the relationship between board diversity and firm performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors use partial least squares methodology to test the direct and indirect relationships between gender diversity in boards of directors and business performance.

Findings

Although the relationship between the presence of women on the board and the board’s effectiveness is statistically significant, this relationship is negative. However, board effectiveness (measured by the three constructs: strategic control, organizational innovation and decision-making) has a positive and statistically significant effect on business performance. Finally, there is a positive, but not statistically significant, relationship between gender diversity and firm performance.

Research limitations/implications

The study has a small sample size, and most of the boards of directors analyzed are unequal with only a few companies achieving gender parity.

Social implications

Public institutions must promote actions to achieve a critical mass of women directors and managers, so that women transcend a merely “symbolic” role on a board and are able to develop their skills and characteristics, thereby improving a board’s effectiveness and business performance.

Originality/value

This paper makes a theoretical contribution to the diversity and governance literature by providing a better understanding of the relationship between board gender diversity and firm performance. It considers the influence of women on the board through a holistic framework, analyzing the mediating role of the board’s effectiveness.

Details

Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, vol. 20 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-0701

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 24 August 2020

Ziphozihle Zajiji, Anthony Wilson-Prangley and Dorothy Ndletyana

Women still face barriers that delay their upward mobility in organisations. This study aims to examine whether women experience critical mass as sufficient to shift deep…

Abstract

Purpose

Women still face barriers that delay their upward mobility in organisations. This study aims to examine whether women experience critical mass as sufficient to shift deep level discursive dynamics, theorised as an (in)visibility Vortex.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative method was used to collect and analyse data on the lived experiences of 16 board-level female leaders who have been appointed to male-dominated boardrooms in South Africa.

Findings

The findings confirm that numeric representation is too simplistic to resolve deep level gendered dynamics. At a personal level: self-confidence, a bigger purpose and competence-experience were found to be counter-forces to Vortex. The role of the chairperson was also crucial.

Practical implications

Organisations must be reminded that even where the number of women on a board has reached beyond a critical mass, hidden barriers still exist. When developing women leaders, practitioners need to penetrate below the surface to appreciate the undercurrents and address them at that level. Organisations need to nurture the personal attributes that counter the forces of the Vortex. Mentorship, sponsorship and coaching may be beneficial. The role of the chairperson is especially important in disrupting deep level dynamics. Chairpersons need to be more deliberate and proactive to refute behaviours that exclude and undermine women’s full participation.

Originality/value

Contrary to the (in)visibility perspectives, the women in this study did not “withdraw” or “conceal” their gender when “exposed” in male-dominated boardroom dynamics. Reasons for this are explored including the potential for further research on the construction of a “trailblazing” identity.

Details

Gender in Management: An International Journal , vol. 36 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2413

Keywords

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