Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 89, Issue 4, pp 581–597 | Cite as

Women and Employee-Elected Board Members, and Their Contributions to Board Control Tasks

  • Morten HuseEmail author
  • Sabina Tacheva Nielsen
  • Inger Marie Hagen


We present results from a study about women and employee-elected board members, and fill some of the gaps in the literature about their contribution to board effectiveness. The empirical data are from a unique data set of Norwegian firms. Board effectiveness is evaluated in relation to board control tasks, including board corporate social responsibility (CSR) involvement. We found that the contributions of women and employee-elected board members varied depending on the board tasks studied. In the article we also explored the effects of the esteem of the women and employee-elected board members, and we used creative discussions in the boardroom as a mediating variable. Previous board research, including research about women and employee-elected directors, questions if the board members contribute to board effectiveness. The main message from this study is that it may be more important to ask how, rather than if, women and employee-elected board members contribute, and we need to open the black box of actual board behavior to explore how they may contribute.


boards of directors corporate social responsibility women directors employee-elected directors board control tasks esteem creative discussions 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 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, 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baysinger, B., & Hoskisson, R. E. (1990). The composition of boards of directors and strategic control: Effects on corporate strategy. Academy of Management Review, 15, 72–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bilimoria, D. (2000). Building the business for women directors. In R.J. Burke, & M. C. Mattis (eds.), Women on corporate boards: International challenges and opportunities (pp 25–40). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Blair, M. (1995). Ownership and control. Rethinking corporate governance for the twenty-first century. Washington DC: The Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  5. Blair, M., & Stout, L. (2001). Corporate accountability: Director accountability and the mediating role of the corporate board. Washington University Law Quarterly, 79, 403–447.Google Scholar
  6. Brodbeck, F. C., Kerschreiter, R., Schulz-Hardt, A. M. S. (2007). Group decision making under conditions of distributed knowledge: The information asymmetries model. Academy of Management Review, 32, 459–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgess, Z., & Tharenou, P. (2002). Women board directors: Characteristics of the few. Journal of Business Ethics, 37, 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burke, R. J., & Mattis, M. (2005). Supporting women’s career advancement: Challenges and opportunities. Chetlenham, UK: Elgar.Google Scholar
  9. Bøhren, ø. and R. ø. Strøm: 2005, The Value Creating Board: Theory and Evidence. Norwegian School of Management, Research Report 8/2005 (BI, Oslo)Google Scholar
  10. Cadbury, A. (2002). Corporate governance and chairmanship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Carly, M.: 2005, Board-Level Employee Representatives in Nine Countries: A Snapshot. Transfer 2/2005 (ETUI-RHS, Brussel)Google Scholar
  12. Catalyst. (2004). The bottom line: Connecting corporate performance and gender diversity. New York: Catalyst.Google Scholar
  13. Catalyst. (2005). The CEO view: Women on corporate boards. New York: Catalyst.Google Scholar
  14. Coffey, B. S., & Wang, J. (1998). Board diversity and managerial control as predictors of corporate social performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 17 , 1595–1603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Daily, C. M., Certo, S. T., & Dalton, D. R. (1999). A decade of corporate women: Some progress in the boardroom, none in the executive suite. Strategic Management Journal, 20 , 93–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Daily, C. M., & Dalton, D. R. (2003). Women in the boardroom: A business imperative. Journal of Business Strategy, 24(5), 8–9.Google Scholar
  17. Daily, C., Dalton, D., & Cannella, A. (2003). Corporate governance: Decades of dialogue and data. Academy of Management Review, 28, 371–382.Google Scholar
  18. Engelstad, P. H., & Qvale, T. U. (1997). Innsyn og innflytelse: Styre og bedriftsforsamling. Oslo: Tiden Norsk Forlag.Google Scholar
  19. Erhardt, N.L., Werbel, J.D., & Schrader, C·B. (2003). Board of directors diversity and firm financial performance. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 11, 102–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Forbes, D. P., & Milliken, F. J. (1999). Cognition and corporate governance: Understanding boards of directors as strategic decision-making groups. Academy of Management Review, 24, 489–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ghoshal, S. (2005). Bad management theories are destroying good management practices. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4, 75–91.Google Scholar
  22. Gordon, J. N., & Roe, M. (2004). Convergence and persistence in corporate governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Grandori, A. (Ed.) (2004). Corporate Governance and Firm Organisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Grosser, K., & Moon, J. (2005). Gender mainstreaming and corporate social responsibility: Reporting workplace issues. Journal of Business Ethics, 62, 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hammer, T. H., Curral, S. C., & Stern, R. N. (1991). Worker representation on boards of directors: A study of competing roles. Industrial and Labor Relation Review, 44, 661–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hillman, A. J., & Dalziel, T. (2003). Board of directors and firm performance: Integrating agency and resource dependence perspectives. Academy of Management Review, 28, 383–396.Google Scholar
  27. Huse, M. (2005). Accountability and creating accountability: A framework for exploring behavioural perspectives on boards and governance. British Journal of Management, 16, s65–s79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huse, M. (2007). Boards, governance and value creation: The human side of corporate governance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Huse, M. (Ed.) (2009). The value creating board: Corporate governance and organizational behaviour. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Huse, M., Minichilli, A., & Schøning, M. (2005). The value of process-oriented boardroom dynamics. Organizational Dynamics, 34, 285–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Huse, M., & Solberg, A. G. (2006). Gender related boardroom dynamics: How women make and can make contributions on corporate boards. Women in Management Review, 21 , 113–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ibrahim, N.A., & Angelides, J.P. (1994). Effect of board members’ gender on corporate social responsiveness orientation. Journal of Applied Business Research, 10, 35–40.Google Scholar
  33. Johnsen, S.: 1991, ‹Mer makt til de ansatte’, Dagens Næringsliv, Oslo, 9 January, p. 12Google Scholar
  34. Judge, W. Q., Jr., & Zeithaml, C. P. (1992).Institutional and strategic choice perspectives on board involvement in the strategic decision process. Academy of Management Journal, 35, 766–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jürgens, U., Sadowski, D., Schuppert, G.F., & Weiss, M. (Eds.) (2007). Perspektiven der Corporate Governance: Bestimmungsfaktoren unternehmerisher Entscheidungsprozesse und Mitwirkung der Arbeitnehmer. Berlin: Nomos.Google Scholar
  36. Kochan, T. A. (2003). Restoring trust in American corporations: Addressing the root cause. Journal of Management and Governance, 7, 223–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kramer, V. W., A. M. Konrad and S. Erkut: 2006, Critical Mass on Corporate Boards: Why Three or More Women Enhance Governance. Report No. 11 (Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley, MA)Google Scholar
  38. Leblanc, R., & Gillies, J. (2005). Inside the boardroom: How boards really work and the coming revolution in corporate governance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  39. Letendre L. (2004). The dynamics of the boardroom. Academy of Management Executive, 18 (1), 101–104.Google Scholar
  40. Levinson, K.: 2001, Anställdas representation i foretaksstyrelser. Arbeidsmarknad & Arbeidsliv, 2001/2 (Arbetslivsinstitutet, Stockholm)Google Scholar
  41. Loden, M. (1985). Feminine leadership or how to succeed in business without being one of the boys. Times Books.Google Scholar
  42. McCabe, A. C., Ingram, R., & Dato-on, M. C. (2006). The business ethics and gender. Journal of Business Ethics, 64, 101–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McInerney-Lacomb, N., Bilimoria, D., & Salipante, P. F. (2008). Championing the discussion of tough issues : How women corporate directors contribute to board deliberations. In S. Vinnicombe, V.Singh, R. Burke, D. Bilimoria, & M. Huse (Eds.) Women on corporate boards: Research and practice. London: Elgar.Google Scholar
  44. McNulty, T., & Pettigrew, A. (1999). Strategists on the board. Organisation Studies, 20, 47–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Milliken, F.J., & Martin, L. L. (1996). Searching for common treads: Understanding the multiple effects of diversity in organizational groups. Academy of Management Review, 21, 402–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Minichilli, A., & Hansen, C. (2007). The board advisory tasks in small firms and the event of crises. Journal of Management and Governance, 11, 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pearce, J. A., & Zahra, S. A. (1991). The relative power of the CEOs and boards of directors: Associations with corporate performance. Strategic Management Journal, 12, 135–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pettigrew, A. (1992). On studying managerial elites. Strategic Management Journal 13, s163–s182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pugliese, A., & Wenstøp, P. Z. (2007). Board members’ contribution to strategic decision-making in small firms. Journal of Management and Governance, 11, 383–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pye, A. (2004). The importance of context and time for understanding board behavior: Some lessons from social capital research”, International Studies of Management and Organization, 34 (2), 63–89.Google Scholar
  51. Randøy, T., S. Thomsen and L. Oxelheim: 2006, A Nordic Perspective on Board Diversity (NICe-Report, Oslo)Google Scholar
  52. Ravasi, D., & Zattoni, A. (2006). Exploring the political side of board involvement in strategy: a study of mixed-ownership institutions. Journal of Management Studies, 43, 1673–1703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rindova, V. (1999). What corporate boards have to do with strategy: A contingency perspective. Journal of Management Studies, 36, 953–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Roberts, J., McNulty, T., & Stiles, P. (2005). Beyond agency conceptions of the work of the non-executive director: Creating accountability in the boardroom. British Journal of Management, 16, s5–s26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robinson, G., & Dechant, K. (1997). Building a business case for diversity. Academy of Management Executive, 11 (3), 21–25.Google Scholar
  56. Rose, C. (2007). Does female board representation influence firm performance? The Danish evidence. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 15, 404–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rosener, J.B. (1990). Way women lead. Harvards Business Review, 68, 119–125.Google Scholar
  58. Rosener, J.B. (1995). America’s competitive secret: Utilizing women as management strategy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Ruigrok, W., Peck, S., & Tacheva, S. (2007). Nationality and gender diversity on Swiss corporate boards. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 15, 546–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schwartz, M. S., Dunfee, T.W., & Kline, M.J. (2005). Tone at the top: An ethical code for directors?. Journal of Business Ethics, 58, 79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Selby, C·C. (2000). From male locker room to co-ed board room: A twenty-five year perspective. In R. Burke, & M. Mattis (Eds.) Women on corporate board of directors. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press.Google Scholar
  62. Sellevoll, T., M. Huse and C. Hansen: 2007, The Value Creating Board: Results from the ‹Follow-Up Surveys’ 2005/2006 in Norwegian Firms. Norwegian School of Management Research Report 2/2007 (BI, Oslo)Google Scholar
  63. Simons, T., Pelled, H.L., & Smith, K. (1999). Making use of differences: Diversity, debate and decision comprehensiveness in top management teams. Academy of Management Journal, 42, 662–673.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Singh, V., & Vinnicombe, S. (2003a). The 2002 female FTSE index and women directors. Women in Management Review, 18, 349–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Singh, V. and S. Vinnicombe: 2003b, Women Pass a Milestone: 101 Directorships on the FTSE 100 Boards – The Female Report 2003. Report from Centre for developing women business leaders. Cranfield School of Management, CranfieldGoogle Scholar
  66. Singh, V., & Vinnicombe, S. (2004). Why so few women directors in top UK boardrooms? Evidence and theoretical explanations. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 12, 479–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Singh, V.,Vinnicombe, S., & Johnson, P. (2001). Women directors on top UK boards. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 9, 206–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stiles, P., & Taylor, B. (2001). Boards at work: How directors view their roles and responsibilities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  69. Sundaramurthy, C., & Lewis, M. (2003). Control and collaboration: Paradoxes of governance. Academy of Management Review, 28, 397–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tacheva, S. and M. Huse: 2006, ‹Women Directors and Board Task Performance: Mediating and Moderating Effects of Board Working Style’, in Boards and Governance. Best Paper Proceedings European Academy of Management, May 2006, pp. 103–120Google Scholar
  71. Taylor, R.: 2005, Industrial Democracy and the European Traditions. Transfer 2/2005 (ETUI-RHS, Brussels)Google Scholar
  72. Useem, M. (1984). Inner circle: Large corporations and the rise of business political activity in the U.S. and U.K. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Van den Heuvel, J., van Gils, A., & Voordeckers, W. (2006). Board roles in small and medium-sized family businesses: Performance and importance. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 14, 467–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Van Ees, H., van der Laan, G., & Postma, T.J.B.M. (2008). Effective board behavior in the Netherlands. European Management Journal, 26, 84–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Westphal, J. D., & Milton, L.P. (2000). How experience and network ties affect the influence of demographic minorities on corporate boards. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45, 366–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Williams, R.J. (2003). Women on corporate boards of directors and their influence on corporate philanthropy. Journal of Business Ethics, 42, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Zahra, S., & Pearce, J. A. (1989). Boards of directors and corporate financial performance: A review and integrative model. Journal of Management, 15, 291–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zona, F., & Zattoni, A. (2007). Beyond the black box of demography: Board processes and task effectiveness within Italian firms. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 15, 852–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morten Huse
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sabina Tacheva Nielsen
    • 3
  • Inger Marie Hagen
    • 4
  1. 1.BI Norwegian School of ManagementOsloNorway
  2. 2.Tor Vergata UniversityRomeItaly
  3. 3.Copenhagen Business SchoolCopenhagenDenmark
  4. 4.FAFOOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations