Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 399–436 | Cite as

Does Confucianism Reduce Board Gender Diversity? Firm-Level Evidence from China



This study extends previous literature on the association between Confucianism and corporate decisions by examining Confucianism’s influence on board gender diversity. Using a sample of Chinese listed firms during the period of 2001–2011 and geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables, I provide strong and consistent evidence to show that Confucianism is significantly negatively associated with board gender diversity, suggesting that the proportion of women directors in the boardroom is significantly lower for firms surrounded by strong Confucianism atmosphere than for firms located in regions with weak Confucianism atmosphere. This finding also implies that Confucian philosophical system has important impacts on business ethics and women’s status in corporate governance. Moreover, GDP per capita, the proxy for economic development level in a province in which a firm is located, attenuates the negative association between Confucianism and board gender diversity. Above results are robust to different measures of Confucianism and board gender diversity and are still valid after controlling for the potential endogeneity between Confucianism and board gender diversity.


Confucianism Board gender diversity GDP per capita Geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variable Women directors in the boardroom 



I am especially grateful to the section editor (Prof. Domènec Melé) and two anonymous reviewers for their many insightful suggestions and constructive comments. I also appreciate valuable comments Hongmei Pei, Quan Zeng, Yingying Chang, and participants of my presentations at the symposium on “the impacts of macroeconomic policies on corporate behavior” (hosted by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Guanghua School of Management, Beijing University), Xiamen University, Ocean University of China, Shandong University, and Shanghai University. Moreover, Prof. Xingqiang Du acknowledge financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (approval number: 71072053), the Key Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Science in Ministry of Education (approval number: 13JJD790027), the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China (approval number: 20120121110007), and Xiamen University’s Prosperity Plan Project of Philosophy and Social Sciences (the sub-project for Center for Accounting Studies and the sub-project for School of Management).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Accounting Department, School of ManagementXiamen UniversityXiamenPeople’s Republic of China

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