Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gender-quota boardrooms come at high price

Date:
February 24, 2014
Source:
BI Norwegian Business School
Summary:
Boardroom gender quotas seem to be a success story. According to a new PhD study however, affected companies pay a high price for the gender quota law. As the first country in the world to do so, Norway adopted a law that requires public limited companies to ensure at least 40 per cent representation of both men and women on the company board. To make sure this law is obeyed, a death sentence, i.e. liquidation, may be imposed on companies that do not comply. The boardroom gender-quota law appears to be a huge success, and it has also garnered considerable attention internationally.

In her PhD project at BI Norwegian Business School, researcher Siv J. Staubo has looked at what it has cost the companies to adjust to the new regulatory requirements and recommendations.
Credit: Image courtesy of BI Norwegian Business School

Boardroom gender quotas seem to be a success story. According to a new PhD study from BI, however, affected companies pay a high price for the gender quota law.

As the first country in the world, Norway adopted a law that requires public limited companies (the ASAs) to ensure at least 40 per cent representation of both men and women on the company board. To make sure this law is obeyed, a death sentence, i.e. liquidation, may be imposed on companies that do not comply.

In practice, many of the affected companies had to replace male board members with female ones. Otherwise, liquidation loomed. There was also an emergency exit: to abandon the status of public limited company. A company was in practice forced to change its organizational form to circumvent the statutory gender-quota requirement.

The boardroom gender-quota law appears to be a huge success, and it has also garnered considerable attention internationally.

The law and not least the threat of liquidation have brought more women into the boards subject to the law. Other countries have been inspired by this Norwegian experiment to regulate gender representation in the boardroom by legislative means. However, no other country has followed Norway's example in threatening to liquidate non-compliant companies.

This shining Norwegian boardroom coin has a flip side that is much less known.

The big company escape

In her PhD project at BI Norwegian Business School, researcher Siv Staubo has looked at what it has cost the companies to adjust to the new regulatory requirements and recommendations. She shows that as many as half the companies that were affected by the new law on gender quotas, chose to escape from their status as a public limited company, thereby evading the requirement for gender-quota boardrooms.

However, they had to pay a price by changing their organizational form and by giving up the potential for prestige and increased latitude which the more advanced organizational form provides. A public limited company (ASA) has benefits which an ordinary limited liability company does not have, for instance the opportunity to be listed on the stock exchange and the value of stronger protection for minority shareholders.

With Professor Ψyvind Bψhren at BI Norwegian Business School, Staubo has examined whether changes in organizational form might be an international trend.

"The escape from the public limited company as an organizational form is unique to Norway and can be attributed to the law on gender quotas," Staubo explains. The companies that stuck to their organizational form, also suffered considerable costs by having to change the composition of their board and train new board members.

"Whatever the companies choose to do, the new regulations entail considerable costs," the finance researcher states.

Increased independence on the boards

This major replacement of board members for public limited companies has not just resulted in more women, it has also led to a dramatic increase in the proportion of independent board members. The greater the distance between the board and the management and the company, the more independent is the board.

Before the quota law took effect, almost half (46 per cent) of board members were independent (in 2002). Once the companies had adapted to the new law, this proportion had increased to two-thirds of all board members (67 per cent) in 2008.

This increase in independence is easily explained. More than eight out of ten female board members (84 per cent) in the public limited companies are independent, in listed as well as unlisted public limited companies.

"This is an unintended effect of the new law," says Staubo.

When there is too much independence

But surely it is good for a board to be more independent of its company?

"Many people think increased board independence is a good thing. But a board doesn't become better just because the proportion of independent board members goes up," she says.

According to Staubo, a board has two main tasks: Control and advice. The needs for control and for advice will vary from one company to another.

Typically, independent board members will be better able to perform their control role than their advisory role. Being a good advisor normally requires more in-depth knowledge about the business than independent board members have.

"The new law on gender representation has generated far more independent board members than the companies felt was appropriate before the law came into effect," Siv Staubo states.

International press are still writing favourably about the Norwegian board experiment. Now they can add to the story by telling their readers how much our new law has cost the companies.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BI Norwegian Business School. The original article was written by Audun Farbrot. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

BI Norwegian Business School. "Gender-quota boardrooms come at high price." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081115.htm>.
BI Norwegian Business School. (2014, February 24). Gender-quota boardrooms come at high price. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081115.htm
BI Norwegian Business School. "Gender-quota boardrooms come at high price." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081115.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

AP (July 30, 2014) — Scientists in Texas are studying the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people across West Africa this year. Right now, the disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins