Title: Who I am affects what I do: how does director diversity influence board roles in medium-sized family firms?

Authors: Soumaya El Hayek Sfeir

Addresses: Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble INP, CERAG, 150, Rue de la Chimie, 38000 Grenoble, France; Excelia Business School, CERIIM, France

Abstract: We expect board of director diversity to be reflected in the way directors carry out their monitoring and advisory roles, including succession planning, and to affect the governance of firms. We conceive that the behaviour of family firm boards is influenced by their demographic and cognitive diversity, which can in turn affect how directors perform their roles. We apply upper echelons theory (Hambrick and Mason, 1984) to six family business case studies to highlight how directors act as resource providers for their firms by utilising their personal experiences, judgement, external connections and access to information. We argue that there is a relationship between director diversity (demographic and cognitive), behaviour and roles, including those related to succession planning, that contributes to the ability of family businesses to survive and prosper.

Keywords: board of directors; governance; cognitive diversity; demographic diversity; behaviour; upper echelons theory.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2023.128360

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2023 Vol.48 No.2, pp.128 - 157

Accepted: 13 Mar 2022
Published online: 18 Jan 2023 *

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