Female Representation on the Board of Directors

Hillman, Shropshire and Cannella (2007) seeks to answer the question of why do some organizations have women on their board of directors while others do not? This review will seek to identify the objective of the study; basic assumptions and theories deployed; identify the hypothesis and research methodologies used in testing the assumptions, and discuss the results before reaching a conclusion.

The research question is appropriate because it focused on the characteristics organisations have that are likely pointers to the level of female representation on its board. Previous research looked at female representations based on work group level (e.g Cox & Nkomo, 1991; Milliken & Martins, 1996) or on an individual level. In addition, despite the several agitations and literatures that show the accrued benefits of having more women on board( e.g Blackman, 2004; Browder, 1995; Gasparino &Boyce, 1998), recent statistics shows that men still hold a greater number of seats on boards of US firms. Schnake et al (2006:31). What could be the reason for this? What are the common attributes/characteristics of these organisations where there are women on their boards? These were referred to as organisational predictors.

According to Hillman et al, focusing on organizational characteristics that are predictive of women on corporate boards allows us to systematically explore under what conditions a firm’s board is more likely to include female directors (2007:941). This represents the underlying objective of this study. In achieving this, references were made to existing theory and hypotheses were developed and tested.

The resource dependence theory was used as the theoretical framework in the search to answers for these questions. It examines the interdependence between organizations and entities in their external environment. Pfeffer, Pfeffer & Salancik, cited in Hillman et al (2007:942). The Resource dependence theory is also, hinged on the fact that no organisation can succeed without the derived benefits they get from external entities. This remains a crucial factor in board recruitment and female board members can provide such benefits to their organisations.

The article is based on deductive research, which entails testing of hypotheses derived from existing theories and concept (Gummesson as cited in University of Leicester 2008:187). The hypotheses tested were as follows

1. Organisational size is positively associated with female representation on a board of directors

2. Firms in industries with greater female employment bases are positively associated with female representation on boards of directors

3. A firm’s level of diversification is positively associated with female representation on its board of directors

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