Getting Women on to Corporate Boards
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Getting Women on to Corporate Boards

A Snowball Starting in Norway

Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi

This book provides unique insights into how the idea of quota laws to get women on to corporate boards gained international momentum from its origins in Norway. Invaluable insights are gained through the stories of actors involved in shaping the discourse and practice on women of boards.
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Chapter 18: Women directors and corporate innovation: a critical mass perspective

Mariateresa Torchia


Drawing on the critical mass theory (Granovetter, 1978; Kanter, 1977a, 1977b, 1987), this chapter addresses the question of whether an increased number of women directors results in the build-up of critical mass that substantially contributes to firm innovation. By identifying different minorities of women directors (one woman, two women and at least three women), I test whether, and to what extent, they could have an impact on the level of firm innovation. Moreover, I explore how women directors contribute to the level of firm innovation by looking at boards as decision-making groups performing different tasks (Forbes and Milliken, 1999; Robinson and Dechant, 1997). Specifically, I analyse whether, and to what extent, the contribution of women directors to the level of firm innovation could be mediated by board strategic tasks. The key research questions are: (1) Is there a critical mass to reach (‘three women directors’) to have a bearing on the level of firm innovation? (2) Do board strategic tasks mediate the relationship between the critical mass of women directors and the level of firm innovation? To address these questions, the chapter statistically tests the effects that different sizes of minority group (one woman, two women and three women) could have on firm organizational innovation. Moreover, the mediating role of board strategic tasks is tested. Tests were conducted on a sample of 317 Norwegian firms.

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