Board performance: how intense are you? Board gender diversity and board performance: the role of affect intensity

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Previous literature has proven that board gender diversity affects performance. However, after years to decades of research, the underlying mechanisms are still not revealed yet. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the intervening role of affect intensity in the board gender diversity – board performance relationship. Previous research has theorized that women experience emotions more intense than men, which implies the positive effect of a higher level of board gender diversity on affect intensity. Also, the positive effect of affect intensity on decision-making and thus board performance is theorized before. However, this study is the first to empirically investigate these two theorized relationships combined into an intervening relationship, as the literature suggests that board gender diversity influences firm performance. Here, assumed is that this literature could also be applied to board performance. Nonetheless, the exact underlying mechanisms are not explained yet. Therefore, scholars have recommended to focus research on board (gender) diversity and performance on the intervening mechanisms. Consequently, this study answers to this request by investigating the role of affect intensity in order to help completing the large puzzle of the still unclear underlying mechanisms, by bringing in this new perspective, adding a social-psychological aspect to this relationship. The setting of this study encompasses the Dutch water management authorities since these authorities are obligated to be transparent, which means data regarding the board compositions, meeting notes, and meeting videos can be found via publicly available sources. Moreover, as the boards consist of approximately 30 people, this makes the authorities a particularly interesting case to investigate, since larger teams have more diversity potential. The data on Dutch water management authorities are examined in a panel data analysis using regression analyses. Board gender diversity is measured by the calculated diversity-level. The levels of affect intensity have been measured using the Microsoft Azure Computer Vision Application Program Interface (API) algorithm. Board performance is measured counting the quantitative number of motions and amendments discussed during a particular meeting. This study has found no significant mediating effect of affect intensity in the board gender diversity – board performance relationship. Moreover, no significant direct relationship of board gender diversity with board performance has been detected in the main analysis. However, a robustness check excluding some observations did find a significant direct relationship, indicating that this relationship is sensitive for measurement methods. Nevertheless, the mediating role of affect intensity thus could not be claimed by this study. Future research should attempt to further explain this relationship, since underlying mechanisms are still unexplained. Possibly, other intervening variables can explain the mechanisms that board gender diversity evokes. Last, this study can recommend the Dutch water management authorities to stimulate women’s representation within the board based on the significant findings of mentioned robustness check. Perhaps, the authorities could both focus more on searching and inviting women to run for board positions and at the same time focus more on creating and/or maintaining a gender supportive climate.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen