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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 141, Issue 2, pp 289–315 | Cite as

Increasing the Number of Women on Boards: The Role of Actors and Processes

  • Cathrine SeierstadEmail author
  • Gillian Warner-Søderholm
  • Mariateresa Torchia
  • Morten Huse
Article

Abstract

Understanding the spread of national public policies to increase the percentage of women on boards is often presented using different types of institutional theory logic. However, the importance of the political games influencing these decisions has not received the same attention. In this article, we look beyond the institutional setting by focusing on the role of actors. We explore processes that include who the critical actors that drive and determine these policies are, and what motivates them to push for change. We employ a processual design approach using a longitudinal country-comparative case study exploring the case of Norway, England, Germany and Italy. We map the political games, both inside and outside legislative areas, including the micro-politics among various actors and groups of actors in the selected countries. Data are collected through participation observations, interviews and text analyses. The study contributes by filling important gaps in the literature by embedding the discussion about women on boards in politicking and national public policies and by introducing dynamic perspectives. Finally, by using a processual design approach, we capture the reality of the women on board debates at different points of time and in different actor and motivational contexts. The study has consequences for how policy-makers and businesses may follow up and act, based on the debates.

Keywords

Women on boards (WoB) National public policies Quotas Actors 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathrine Seierstad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gillian Warner-Søderholm
    • 2
  • Mariateresa Torchia
    • 3
  • Morten Huse
    • 3
  1. 1.University of SussexEast SussexUK
  2. 2.BIOsloNorway
  3. 3.University of Witten HerdeckeNorth Rhine-WestphaliaGermany

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