National institutional systems as antecedents of female board representation: an empirical study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Citations (SciVal)


Manuscript Type: Empirical Research

Question/Issue: How are national institutional systems related to the proportion of women found on corporate boards of directors of companies listed in particular countries? Which particular types of national institutions play the most important role? We explore cross-country variation in the pattern of female representation on corporate boards and evaluate the extent to which it is associated with the nature of national institutional systems as captured in five frameworks each of which emphasizes the importance of a distinct type of national institutions. Our analysis includes 38 countries and covers the years 2001-07.

Research Findings/Insights: Our findings show that as much as half of the variation in the presence of women on corporate boards across countries is attributable to national institutional systems and that culturally and legally-oriented institutional systems appear to play the most significant role in shaping board diversity.

Theoretical/Academic Implications: Our study suggests that country-level institutions, previously neglected in studies of board diversity, play an important role in shaping the prevalence of women on corporate boards and that these need to be more fully incorporated in future research on board diversity.

Practitioner/Policy Implications: The importance of national institutional systems for board diversity suggests that policy levers of a regulatory nature and national cultural characteristics are important elements in driving corporate board diversity and offer distinct opportunities for tailoring a mix of corporate governance interventions that suit the particular institutional nature of a given country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-135
Number of pages20
JournalCorporate Governance: An International Review
Issue number2
Early online date2 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • board demography
  • corporate board diversity
  • institutional theory
  • corporate governance
  • Sustainability


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