International Research and Practice
Edited by Susan Vinnicombe, Val Singh, Ronald J. Burke, Diana Bilimoria and Morten Huse
Chapter 12: Women Directors and the ‘Black Box’ of Board Behavior
Morten Huse THE CASE FOR WOMEN ON BOARDS The careful scrutiny of board work over the past decade has led to increased attention to board composition and eﬀectiveness in general and to the representation of women on boards in particular. The increased demands posed on corporate boards for performing various strategy, control and service tasks require a wider variety of board members’ backgrounds, qualiﬁcations and experiences. Yet the representation of women on boards is strongly debated in both research and practice. Some countries have implemented laws requiring a quota for women directors on boards and others plan to implement such practices in the future. The new legislation in Norway that required at least 40 per cent of all board members to be women has raised vivid debate both nationally and abroad (Bernstein, 2005). Yet the actual contribution that women make in the boardroom and their inﬂuence on board processes and eﬀectiveness remains largely underresearched (Bilimoria, 2000; van der Walt and Ingley, 2003). The public debates in many countries present societal case and business case arguments for increasing the number of women board members. The societal case holds that corporations and corporate boards are embedded in a societal context, and shareholders must accept that societal values can be more important than shareholder values. Hence, an increase in the number of women directors per se has often been seen as a goal in itself and used as eﬀectiveness criteria relating to the societal case. The business case...
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