Women’s Leadership and Firm Performance: Family Versus Nonfamily Firms

Abstract

We evaluate the relationship between the appointment of women to CEO or Chair positions and firm performance, and shed light on the differences between family and nonfamily firms. By using a propensity score matching approach on a sample of 394 French firms over the period 2001–2010, we find major discordances between women’s leadership style and family business expectations relative to firm performance, as measured by return on assets and Tobin’s q. Notably, our results support the conjecture that family firms, which are more conducive to transformational leadership, offer women a more appropriate climate for exercising the function of Chair than that of CEO. In contrast, women CEOs perform better in nonfamily firms. Our findings move away from the predominant focus on barriers and stereotypes images about the female leadership and support the contingency theory of leadership, which states that the effectiveness of a leadership style depends on the organization and culture in which leaders operate, and on task-related positions

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA), 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, www.eowa.gov.au.

  2. 2.

    http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/gender-equality/news/140924en.htm.

  3. 3.

    The ‘New Economic Regulations (NER)’ Act of May 15, 2001 recommended rules for corporate objectives, structure, including board composition and committee structure, roles of directors and shareholders in control transactions, and tender offers.

  4. 4.

    Our sample includes companies that existed on December 1, 2010 and excludes those that existed at any prior year during our sample period but that were deleted.

  5. 5.

    The standard GMM considers only the first difference of each variable in the regressions, while the lagged levels of explanatory variables are used as instruments. Blundell and Bond (1998) introduce the levels equation in the estimation procedure to produce a system GMM of two equations involving both the levels equation itself and the first-differenced equation.

  6. 6.

    Matching without replacement means that the same family firm can be matched to only one nonfamily firm.

  7. 7.

    As an alternative profitability measure, we use the return on equity defined as the ratio of net income to stockholders’ equity. The results using return on equity are quite similar to those using return on assets.

  8. 8.

    We find a few cases in family firms where a woman holds both CEO and board Chair positions (0.78 %), and no cases are observed for nonfamily firms. The case of woman CEO duality therefore cannot be considered.

  9. 9.

    As in the first matching, we use a caliper distance of 3 % without replacement.

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Nekhili, M., Chakroun, H. & Chtioui, T. Women’s Leadership and Firm Performance: Family Versus Nonfamily Firms. J Bus Ethics 153, 291–316 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3340-2

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Keywords

  • Woman leadership
  • Family firms
  • Transformational leadership
  • Contingency theory of leadership
  • Performance
  • Propensity score matching