Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

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

  • 1976 Accesses

  • 16 Citations


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Also, some famous writers heavily criticized Confucianism. For example, in his writing of “The True Story of Ah Q”, Lu Xun (1881–1936), one of the most famous writers in China, criticized that Confucian philosophy had shaped Chinese people with slave personality.

  2. 2.

    Please refer to the following website: http://m.putclub.com/mobile.php?action=article&id=65986. Moreover, as reported in the Hurun list of richest women in 2011, Chinese women only make up 15.5 % of the list (http://www.hurun.net/zhcn/NewsShow.aspx?nid=156).

  3. 3.

    Shi et al. (2014) find the association between culture and GDP per capita, the proxy for provincial economic performance that varies across different provinces.

  4. 4.

    Please refer to the detailed procedures of geographic-proximity-based Confucianism variables in Du (2014a)

  5. 5.

    Results are not qualitatively changed by deleting the top and bottom 1 % of the sample or by no winsorization.

  6. 6.

    Non-tabulated results in robustness checks and additional tests are available upon request (similarly hereinafter).

  7. 7.

    I acknowledge one referee for his/her valuable suggestion on some future research.

  8. 8.

    I acknowledge one referee for his/her providing me with the countervailing evidence and the tendency in East Asian countries to hire "pink" at entry-level positions in Big 4 and other public Audit firms in China and Thailand.

  9. 9.

    In January, 2013, The Britain’s House of Lords held a debate on boardroom diversity. As a result, House of Lords deplored low levels of female board representation, but rejected EU-imposed quotas. Poland’s lower house of parliament took similar action on January 4, 2013, slapping down EU quotas by 333 to 60 votes with 35 abstentions. Please see the following website in detail: http://m.putclub.com/mobile.php?action=article&id=65986.


  1. Adair-Toteff, C. (2014). Max Weber on Confucianism versus Protestantism. Max Weber Studies, 14(1), 79–96.

  2. Adams, R. A., & Ferreira, D. (2009). Women in the boardroom and their impact on governance and performance. Journal of Financial Economics, 94(2), 291–309.

  3. Adams, S. M., & Flynn, P. M. (2005). Local knowledge advances women’s access to corporate boards. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 13(6), 836–846.

  4. Arfken, D. E., Bellar, S. L., & Helms, M. M. (2004). The ultimate glass ceiling revisited: The presence of women on corporate boards. Journal of Business Ethics, 50(2), 177–186.

  5. Basmann, R. L. (1960). On finite sample distributions of generalized classical linear identifiability test statistics. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 55, 650–659.

  6. Bass, B. M., & Steidlmeier, P. (1999). Ethics, character, and authentic transformational leadership behavior. The leadership quarterly, 10(2), 181–217.

  7. Bear, S., Rahman, N., & Post, C. (2010). The impact of board diversity and gender composition on corporate social responsibility and firm reputation. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(2), 207–221.

  8. Bell, D. A. (2010). Reconciling socialism and Confucianism? Reviving tradition in China. Dissent, 57(1), 91–99.

  9. Bernardi, R. A., Bean, D. F., & Weippert, K. M. (2002). Signaling gender diversity through annual report pictures: A research note on image management. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 15(4), 609–616.

  10. Bernardi, R. A., Bosco, S. M., & Columb, V. L. (2009). Does female representation on boards of directors associate with the most ethical companies? Corporate Reputation Review, 12(3), 270–280.

  11. Berthrong, J. H. (1998). Transformations of the Confucian way. Colorado: West View Press.

  12. Blau, P. M. (1977). Inequality and heterogeneity. New York: Free Press.

  13. Boarini, R., Johansson, Å., & d’Ercole, M. M. (2006). Alternative measures of well-being. New York: OECD Publishing.

  14. Boulhol, H., De Serres, A., & Molnar, M. (2008). The contribution of economic geography to GDP per capita. Paris: OECD.

  15. Boulouta, I. (2013). Hidden connections: The link between board gender diversity and corporate social performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(2), 185–197.

  16. Bulger, C. M. (2000). Fighting gender discrimination in the Chinese workplace. BC Third World LJ, 20, 345.

  17. Burgess, Z., & Tharenou, P. (2002). Women board directors: Characteristics of the few. Journal of Business Ethics, 37(1), 39–49.

  18. Campbell, K., & Mínguez-Vera, A. (2008). Gender diversity in the boardroom and firm financial performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 83(3), 435–451.

  19. Cavana, P., Delahaye, B., & Ching, K. (2001). Applied business research. Brisbane: Wiley-IEEE Press.

  20. Chan, G. K. Y. (2008). The relevance and value of Confucianism in contemporary business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 77(3), 347–360.

  21. Chapple, L., & Humphrey, J. E. (2013). Does board gender diversity have a financial impact? Evidence using stock portfolio performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 122(4), 709–723.

  22. Chen, G. M., & Chung, J. (1994). The impact of Confucianism on organizational communication. Communication Quarterly, 42(2), 93–105.

  23. Choi, J. H., Kim, J. B., Qiu, A. A., & Zang, Y. (2012). Geographic proximity between auditor and client: How does it impact audit quality? Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 31(2), 43–72.

  24. Chow, W. S., & Luk, V. W. M. (1996). Management in the 1990s: A comparative study of women managers in China and Hong Kong. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 11(1), 24–36.

  25. Confucius. (2003a). Analects. (E. Slingerland, Trans.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

  26. Confucius. (2003b). The main concepts of Confucianism. Retrieved August 21, 2014, from www.philosophy.lander.edu.

  27. Cooke, F. L. (2003). Equal opportunity? Women’s managerial careers in governmental organizations in China. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 14(2), 317–333.

  28. Davidson, M. J., & Cooper, C. L. (1992). Shattering the glass ceiling: The woman manager. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

  29. de Cabo, R. M., Gimeno, R., & Nieto, M. J. (2012). Gender diversity on European banks’ boards of directors. Journal of Business Ethics, 109(2), 145–162.

  30. DeFond, M., Francis, J., & Hu, X. (2011). The geography of SEC enforcement and auditor reporting for financially distressed clients. SSRN. http://ssrn.com/abstract=1132885.

  31. Ding, Y., Zhang, H., & Zhang, J. (2007). Private vs. state ownership and earnings management: Evidence from Chinese listed companies. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 15(2), 223–238.

  32. Dollinger, M. J. (1988). Confucian ethics and Japanese management practices. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(8), 575–584.

  33. Dong, X. Y., & Bowles, P. (2002). Segmentation and discrimination in China’s emerging industrial labor market. China Economic Review, 13(2), 170–196.

  34. Du, X. (2013). Does religion matter to owner-manager agency costs? Evidence from China. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(2), 319–347.

  35. Du, X. (2014a). Does Confucianism reduce minority shareholder expropriation? Evidence from China. Journal of Business Ethics, doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2325-2.

  36. Du, X. (2014b). Does religion mitigate tunneling? Evidence from China. Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 299–327.

  37. Du, X., Jian, W., Du, Y., Feng, W., & Zeng, Q. (2014a). Religion, the nature of ultimate owner, and corporate philanthropic giving: Evidence from China. Journal of Business Ethics, 123(2), 235–256.

  38. Du, X., Jian, W., Lai, S., Du, Y., & Pei, H. (2014b). Does religion mitigate earnings management? Evidence from China. Journal of Business Ethics, doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2290-9.

  39. Du, X., Jian, W., Zeng, Q., & Du, Y. (2014c). Corporate environmental responsibility in polluting Industries: Does religion matter? Journal of Business Ethics, 124(3), 485–507.

  40. Eagly, A. H., & Carli, L. L. (2003). The female leadership advantage: An evaluation of the evidence. The Leadership Quarterly, 14(6), 807–834.

  41. Ebenstein, A., & Leung, S. (2010). Son preference and access to social insurance: Evidence from China’s rural pension program. Population and Development Review, 36(1), 47–70.

  42. Ebrey, P. (2003). Women and the family in Chinese history. London: Rutledge.

  43. El Ghoul, S., Guedhami, O., Ni, Y., Pittman, J., & Saadi, S. (2013). Does information asymmetry matter to equity pricing? Evidence from firms’ geographic location. Contemporary Accounting Research, 30(1), 140–181.

  44. Ellwood, S., & Garcia-Lacalle, J. (2014). The influence of presence and position of women on the boards of directors: The case of NHS foundation trusts. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2206-8.

  45. Elman, B. A., Duncan, J. B., & Ooms, H. (Eds.). (2002). Rethinking Confucianism: Past and present in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian Pacific Monograph Series.

  46. Fam, K.-S., Yang, Z., & Hyman, M. (2009). Confucian/chopsticks marketing. Journal of Business Ethics, 88, 393–397.

  47. Fan, G., Wang, X., & Zhu, H. (2011). The report on the relative process of Marketization of each region in China (in Chinese). Beijing: The Economic Science Press.

  48. Fei, H. T. (1939). Peasant Life in China. London: Hesperides Press.

  49. Francoeur, C., Labelle, R., & Sinclair-Desgagné, B. (2008). Gender diversity in corporate governance and top management. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(1), 83–95.

  50. Gilgen, A. R., & Cho, J. H. (1979). Questionnaire to measure eastern and western thought. Psychological Reports, 44(3), 835–841.

  51. Goodkind, D. (1996). On substituting sex preference strategies in East Asia: Does prenatal sex selection reduce postnatal discrimination? Population and Development Review, 22(1), 111–125.

  52. Greenwood, J., Seshadri, A., & Yorukoglu, M. (2005). Engines of liberation. The Review of Economic Studies, 72(1), 109–133.

  53. Guthrie, D. (2008). China and globalization: The social, economic and political transformation of Chinese Society. London: Taylor & Francis.

  54. Han, K. H., Li, M. C., & Hwang, K. K. (2005). Cognitive responses to favor requests from different social targets in a Confucian society. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22(2), 283–294.

  55. Harrison, D. A., & Klein, K. J. (2007). What’s the difference? Diversity constructs as separation, variety, or disparity in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1199–1228.

  56. Hong (Fincher), L. (2014). Leftover women: The resurgence of gender inequality in China. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jun/05/leftover-women-gender-inequality-china.

  57. Hunt, S. D., & Vitell, S. J. (2006). The general theory of marketing ethics: A revision and three questions. Journal of Macro-marketing, 26(2), 1–11.

  58. Hwang, D. B., Golemon, P. L., Chen, Y., Wang, T. S., & Hung, W. S. (2009). Guanxi and business ethics in Confucian society today: An empirical case study in Taiwan. Journal of Business Ethics, 89(2), 235–250.

  59. Hyland, M. M., & Marcellino, P. A. (2002). Examining gender on corporate boards: A regional study. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 2(4), 24–31.

  60. Ip, P. K. (2009). Is Confucianism good for business ethics in China? Journal of Business Ethics, 88(3), 463–476.

  61. Jayachandran, S. (2014). The roots of gender inequality in developing countries (No. w20380). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

  62. Jeff, H. (2008). Confucianism, men and women. Facts and details: China. Retrieved November 12, 2013, from http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=105&catid=4&subcatid=21#02.

  63. Jia, M., & Zhang, Z. (2013). Critical mass of women on BODs, multiple identities, and corporate philanthropic disaster response: Evidence from privately owned Chinese firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(2), 303–317.

  64. Jiang, J. P. L. (1987). Confucianism and modernization: A symposium. Taipei (China): Freedom Council Press.

  65. Jiang, X. (2009). Confucianism, women, and social contexts. Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 36(2), 228–242.

  66. Jiang, G., Lee, C. M. C., & Yue, H. (2010). Tunneling through inter-corporate loans: the China experience. Journal of Financial Economics, 98(1), 1–20.

  67. Jiang, Q., Li, S., & Feldman, M. W. (2011). Demographic consequences of gender discrimination in China: Simulation analysis of policy options. Population Research and Policy Review, 30(4), 619–638.

  68. Jiang, G., & Wang, H. (2008). Should earnings thresholds be used as delisting criteria in stock market? Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, 27(5), 409–419.

  69. John, K., Knyazeva, A., & Knyazeva, D. (2011). Do shareholders care about geography? Journal of Financial Economics, 101(3), 533–551.

  70. Kang, H., Cheng, M., & Gray, S. J. (2007). Corporate governance and board composition: Diversity and independence of Australian boards. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 15(2), 194–207.

  71. Kedia, S., & Rajgopal, S. (2011). Do the SEC’s enforcement preferences affect corporate misconduct? Journal of Accounting and Economics, 51(3), 259–278.

  72. Klettner, A., Clarke, T., & Boersma, M. (2014). Strategic and regulatory approaches to increasing women in leadership: multilevel targets and mandatory quotas as levers for cultural change. Journal of Business Ethics, doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2069-z.

  73. Korabik, K. (1992). Women hold up half the sky: the status of managerial women in China. Advances in Chinese industrial studies, 3, 197–211.

  74. Korabik, K. (1994). Managerial women in the People’s Republic of China: The long march continues. International Studies of Management and Organization, 23(4), 47–64.

  75. Kramer, V. W., Konrad, A. M., Erkut, S., & Hooper, M. J. (2006). Critical mass on corporate boards: Why three or more women enhance governance. Boston: Wellesley Centers for Women.

  76. Lam, K. C. J. (2003). Confucian business ethics and the economy. Journal of Business Ethics, 43(1–2), 153–162.

  77. Laurence, J., Gao, G. P., & Paul, H. (1995). Confucian roots in China: A force for today’s business. Management Decision, 33(10), 29–34.

  78. Lee, C. K. (1998). Gender and the south China miracle: Two worlds of factory women. Oakland (California): University of California Press.

  79. Leung, A. S. (2003). Feminism in transition: Chinese culture, ideology and the development of the women’s movement in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 20(3), 359–374.

  80. Li, X. (1995). Gender inequality in China and cultural relativism. Women, Culture, and Development, 20, 407–426.

  81. Li, J., & Lavely, W. (2003). Village context, women’s status, and son preference among rural Chinese women. Rural Sociology, 68(1), 87–106.

  82. Liu, S.-H. (1998). Understanding Confucian philosophy: Classical and Sung-Ming. New York: Greenwood Press.

  83. Liu, J. (2007). Gender Dynamics and redundancy in urban China. Feminist Economics, 13(3–4), 125–158.

  84. Liu, P. W., Meng, X., & Zhang, J. (2000). Sectoral gender wage differentials and discrimination in the transitional Chinese economy. Journal of Population Economics, 13(2), 331–352.

  85. Loughran, T. (2007). Geographic dissemination of information. Journal of Corporate Finance, 13, 675–694.

  86. Loughran, T., & Schultz, P. (2005). Liquidity: Urban versus rural firms. Journal of Financial Economics, 78, 341–374.

  87. Lovett, S., Simmons, L. C., & Kali, R. (1999). Guanxi versus the market: Ethics and efficiency. Journal of International Business Studies, 30(2), 231–247.

  88. Lu, X. (1997). Business ethics in China. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(14), 1509–1518.

  89. Lucas-Pérez, M. E., Mínguez-Vera, A., Baixauli-Soler, J. S., Martín-Ugedo, J. F., & Sánchez-Marín, G. (2014). Women on the board and managers’ pay: Evidence from Spain. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2148-1.

  90. Mann, S., & Cheng, Y. Y. (2001). Under Confucian eyes: Writings on gender in Chinese history. California: University of California Press.

  91. Marcus, R. (2014). Chinese women face a political ceiling that’s hard to shatter. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ruth-marcus-chinese-women-face-a-political-ceiling-thats-hard-to-shatter/2014/05/30/cfbee3ac-e818-11e3-a86b-362fd5443d19_story.html.

  92. Meyerson, D. E., & Fletcher, J. K. (2000). A modest manifesto for shattering the glass ceiling. Harvard Business Review, 78(1), 126–136.

  93. Morrison, A. M., White, R. P., & Van Velsor, E. (Eds.). (1992). Breaking the glass ceiling: Can women reach the top of America’s largest corporations? New York: Basic Books.

  94. Mukhtar, S. M. (2002). Differences in male and female management characteristics: a study of owner-manager businesses. Small Business Economics, 18(4), 289–310.

  95. Nekhili, M., & Gatfaoui, H. (2013). Are demographic attributes and firm characteristics drivers of gender diversity? Investigating women’s positions on French boards of directors. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(2), 227–249.

  96. North, D. C. (1990). Institutions, institutional change and economic performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  97. North, D. C. (2000). The new institutional economics: Taking stock, looking ahead. Journal of Economic Literature, 38(3), 595–613.

  98. Ono, K. (1989). Chinese women in a century of revolution, 1850–1950. Oakland: Stanford University Press.

  99. Peterson, C. A., & Philpot, J. (2007). Women’s roles on US Fortune 500 boards: Director expertise and committee memberships. Journal of Business Ethics, 72(2), 177–196.

  100. Petrakis, P. E. (2014). Collectivism as an aid or obstacle to economic growth. Culture, growth and economic policy (pp. 117–130). Berlin: Springer.

  101. Ramey, V. A. (2009). Time spent in home production in the twentieth-century United States: New estimates from old data. Journal of Economic History, 69(1), 1–47.

  102. Redfern, K. (2004). An empirical investigation of the ethics position questionnaire in the People’s Republic of China. Journal of Business Ethics, 50(3), 199–210.

  103. Rhode, D., & Packel, A. K. (2010). Diversity on corporate boards: How much difference does difference make? Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, Working Paper, No. 89.

  104. Rising, B. (2000). SPHDIST: Stata module to compute spherical distances. Statistical software components S372502 (Boston College Department of Economics). Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://ideas.repec.org/c/boc/bocode/s372502.html#refs.

  105. Romar, E. J. (2002). Virtue is good business: Confucianism as a practical business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 38(1–2), 119–131.

  106. Rosenlee, L. H. L. (2012). Confucianism and women: A philosophical interpretation. New York: SUNY Press.

  107. Sackmann, S. A. (1997). Cultural complexity in organizations: Inherent contrasts and contradictions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

  108. Sargan, J. D. (1958). The estimation of economic relationships using instrumental variables. Econometrica, 26, 393–415.

  109. Schein, V. E. (2001). A global look at psychological barriers to women’s progress in management. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 675–688.

  110. Shaffer, M. A., Joplin, J. R., Bell, M. P., Lau, T., & Oguz, C. (2000). Gender discrimination and job-related outcomes: A cross-cultural comparison of working women in the United States and China. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 57(3), 395–427.

  111. Shen, P. (2014). Chinese women still face “the silk ceiling”. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from http://china.cankaoxiaoxi.com/2014/0603/396258.shtml.

  112. Shi, S., Huang, K., Ye, D., & Yu, L. (2014). Culture and regional economic development: Evidence from China. Papers in Regional Science, 93(2), 281–299.

  113. Srinidhi, B., Gul, F. A., & Tsui, J. (2011). Female directors and earnings quality. Contemporary Accounting Research, 28(5), 1610–1644.

  114. Stacey, J. (1984). Patriarchy and socialist revolution. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

  115. Sudo, M., & Hill, M. G. (2006). Concepts of women’s rights in modern China. Gender & History, 18(3), 472–489.

  116. Summerfield, G. (1994). Economic reform and the employment of Chinese women. Journal of Economic Issues, 28(3), 715–732.

  117. Tamney, J. B., & Chiang, L. H. (2002). Modernization, globalization, and Confucianism in Chinese societies. Westport, CT: Praeger.

  118. Tan, J. Y. (1967). Confucianism and neo-Confucianism. In New. Catholic (Ed.), Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill Book.

  119. Tan, J., & Chow, I. H.-S. (2009). Isolating cultural and national influence on value and ethics: A test of competing hypotheses. Journal of Business Ethics, 88, 197–210.

  120. Tan, D., & Snell, R. S. (2002). The third eye: Exploring Guanxi and relational morality in the workplace. Journal of Business Ethics, 41(4), 361–384.

  121. Taylor, R. L. (2005). The illustrated encyclopedia of Confucianism. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

  122. Teng, J. E. (1996). The construction of the “traditional Chinese woman” in western academy: A critical review. Signs, 22(1), 115–151.

  123. Terjesen, S., Sealy, R., & Singh, V. (2009). Women directors on corporate boards: A review and research agenda. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 17(3), 320–337.

  124. Torchia, M., Calabro, A., & Huse, M. (2011). Women directors on corporate boards: From tokenism to critical mass. Journal of Business Ethics, 102(2), 299–317.

  125. Tu, W.-M. (1985). Confucian thought: Selfhood as creative transformation. New York: State University of New York Press.

  126. UNEGEEW. (2010). UN women in China. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from http://www.unwomen-eseasia.org/docs/factsheets/02%20CHINA%20factsheet.pdf.

  127. Vaidyanathan, B. (2008). Corporate giving: a literature review. Working Paper, Center for the Study of Religion and Society. Indiana: University of Notre Dame.

  128. Walter, S. (2014). How does Confucian dynamism influence national innovativeness? Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing.

  129. Wang, L., & Juslin, H. (2009). The impact of Chinese culture on corporate social responsibility: The harmony approach. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(3), 433–451.

  130. Whitcomb, L. L., Erdener, C. B., & Li, C. (1998). Business ethical values in China and the US. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(8), 839–852.

  131. White, H. (1980). A heteroskedasticity-consistent covariance matrix estimator and a direct test for heteroskedasticity. Econometrica, 48(4), 817–838.

  132. Williamson, O. E. (2000). The new institutional economics: Taking stock, looking ahead. Journal of Economic Literature, 38, 595–613.

  133. Wooldridge, J. M. (1995). Score diagnostics for linear models estimated by two stage least squares. In G. S. Maddala, P. C. B. Phillips, & T. N. Srinivasan (Eds.), Advances in econometrics and quantitative economics: Essays in honor of professor Rao C. R. (pp. 66–87). Oxford: Blackwell.

  134. World Economic Forum (2013). The global gender gap report 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2014, from www.weforum.org.

  135. Wu, Z. (2009). Gender inequalities of the labor market during market transition. Economic Theory and Policy Research, 2(1), 87–98. (In Chinese).

  136. Yao, X. (2000). An introduction to Confucianism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  137. Yu, Y. (1996). Xiandai Ruxue Lun. River Edge: Global Publishing Co., Inc.

  138. Yuan, L. (2005). Reconceiving women’s equality in China: A critical examination of models of sex equality. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

  139. Yum, J. O. (1988). The impact of Confucianism on interpersonal relationships and communication patterns in East Asia. Communications Monographs, 55(4), 374–388.

  140. Zhang, L., & Dong, X. Y. (2008). Male-female wage discrimination in Chinese industry: Investigation using firm-level data. Economics of Transition, 16(1), 85–112.

  141. Zheng, W. (1997). Maoism, feminism, and the UN conference on women: Women’s studies research in contemporary China. Journal of Women’s History, 8(4), 126–152.

  142. Zhu, Y. (2009). Confucian ethics exhibited in the discourse of Chinese business and marketing communication. Journal of Business Ethics, 88(3), 517–528.

  143. Zhu, Y. (2013). The role of Qing (positive emotions) and Li (rationality) in Chinese entrepreneurial decision making: A Confucian Ren-Yi wisdom perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, doi:10.1007/s10551-013-1970-1.

Download references


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).

Author information

Correspondence to Xingqiang Du.



See Table 11.

Table 11 Variable definitions

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Du, X. Does Confucianism Reduce Board Gender Diversity? Firm-Level Evidence from China. J Bus Ethics 136, 399–436 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2508-x

Download citation


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