The Role of Female Directors in the Boardroom: Examining Their Impact on Competitive Dynamics

Business and Society 60 (4):811-843 (2021)

Abstract

This study contributes simultaneously to research on women board members and competitive dynamics by investigating two unresolved research questions: What is the effect of female directors on the firm’s competitive repertoire? Under what conditions is this effect more pronounced? Leveraging the “Awareness-Motivation-Capability” framework, we predict that having women on the board of directors should impact the complexity, heterogeneity, and volume of the firm’s competitive moves. Relying upon a sample of U.S. pharmaceutical firms for the years 2000 to 2017, we find that adding female directors on the board positively affects the complexity and volume of a firm’s competitive moves, but negatively impacts the heterogeneity of competitive actions. In addition, the presence of a female CEO moderates these effects, leading to more complex competitive actions and increased volume. Thus, our study lends a greater understanding of how female board members influence competitive dynamics and shape the strategic direction of the firm.

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