Board Gender Diversity and Internationalization: The Moderating Effect of Family Ownership

Mario Ossorio


The present work aims to highlight the relationship between board gender diversity and firms’ internationalization degree and to investigate whether family ownership exerts a moderating role on the relationship above mentioned. While a greater presence of women on board, on one hand, increases diversity, that, in turn, may stimulate firms’ internationalization, on the other hand, it may increase firms’ risk aversion, reducing risky investments, such as those in internationalization. Besides, since in the Italian context families represent the main controlling owner, this work investigates its moderating role on the relationship in the exam. Family ownership may negatively influence the board gender diversity-firms’ internationalization degree relationship because of family members’ desire to protect their socio-emotional wealth. Basing on a sample of Italian listed firms, the empirical findings of this work show that women directors ratio negatively affects firms’ export intensity and family ownership strengthens this relationship.


Export intensity; Women directors; Family ownership

Full Text:



Alegre, J., Pla-Barber, J., Chiva, R., & Villar C. (2012). Organisational learning capability, product innovation performance and export intensity. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 24(5), 511-526.

Ayadi, O. F., Ojo, A. T., Ayadi, M. F., & Adetula, D. T. (2015). Gender diversity in the governance of the Nigerian securities market. Corporate Governance. The International Journal of Business in Society, 15(5), 734-746.

Barber, B. M., & Odean, T. (2001). Boys will be boys: Gender, overconfidence, and common stock investment. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 116(1), 261-292.

Barca, F. (1996). On corporate governance in Italy: Issues, facts and agenda. Fondazione E.N.I. Enrico Mattei. Working paper, 10.

Barroso, C., Villegas, M. M., & Perez-Calero, L. (2011). Board influence on a firm’s internationalization. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 19(4), 351-367.

Berrone, P., Cruz, C., & Gomez-Mejia, L. R. (2012). Socioemotional wealth in family firms: Theoretical dimensions, assessment approaches, and agenda for future research. Family Business Review, 25(3), 258-279.

Bianco, M., Ciavarella, A., & Signoretti, R. (2015). Women on corporate boards in Italy: The role of family connections. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 23(2), 129-144.

Boisot, M., & Meyer, M. W. (2008). Which way through the open door? Reflection on the internationalization of Chinese firms. Management and Organization Review, 4(3), 349-365.

Brown, D. A. H., Brown, D. L., & Anastasopoulos, V. (2002). Women on boards. Not just the right thing, but the “bright” thing. Paper presented at the Conference Board of Canada.

Chen, H. L. (2011). Does board independence influence the top management team? Evidence from strategic decisions toward internationalization. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 19(4), 334-350.

Chen, H. L., Hsu, W. T., & Chang, C. Y. (2016). Independent directors’ human and social capital, firm internationalization and performance implications: An integrated agency-resource dependence view. International Business Review, 25(4), 859-871.

Consob. (2015). Report on corporate governance of Italian listed companies. Rome: Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa.

Croson, R., & Gneezy, U. (2009). Gender differences in preferences. Journal of Economic Literature, 47(2), 448-474.

Dunning, J. H. (1981). International production and the multinational enterprise. London, England: George Allen & Unwin.

Eckel, C. C., & Grossman, P. J. (2008). Men, women and risk aversion: Experimental evidence. In C. Plott & V. Smith (Eds), Handbook of experimental economics results (pp.1061-73). New York Elsevier.

Faccio, M., & Lang, L. H. P. (2002). The ultimate ownership of Western European corporations. Journal of Financial Economics, 65(3), 365-395.

Faccio, M., Marchica, M. T., & Mura, R. (2016). CEO gender, corporate risk-taking, and the efficiency of capital allocation. Journal of Corporate Finance, 39, 193-209.

Francoeur, C., Labelle, R., & Sinclair-Desgagné, B. (2008). Gender diversity in corporate governance and top management. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(1), 83-95.

George, G., Wiklund, J., & Zahra, S. A. (2005). Ownership and the internationalization of small firms. Journal of Management, 31(2), 210-233.

Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Cruz, C., Berrone, P., & De Castro, J. (2011). The bind that ties: Socioemotional wealth preservation in family firms. Academy of Management Annals, 5(1), 653-707.

Grossman, M., & Wood, W. (1993). Sex differences in intensity of emotional experience: A social role interpretation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(5), 1010-1022.

Hair, J. F., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L., & Black, W. C. (1998). Multivariate data analysis. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall International.

Haunschild, P. (1993). Interorganizational imitation: The impact of interlocks on corporate acquisition activity. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(4), 564–592.

Hillman, A. J., & Dalziel, T. (2003). Boards of directors and firm performance: Integrating agency and resource dependence perspectives. Academy of Management Review, 28(3), 383-396.

Hitt, M. A., Tihanyi, L., Miller, T., & Connelly, B. (2006). International diversification: Antecedents, outcomes, and moderators. Journal of Management, 32(6), 831-867.

Jensen, M. C., & Meckling, W. H. (1976). Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure. Journal of Financial Economics, 3(4), 305-360.

Jianakoplos, N., & Bernasek, A. (2007). Are female more risk averse? Economic Inquiry, 36(4), 620-630.

Joecks, J., Pull, K., & Vetter, K. (2014). Gender diversity in the boardroom and firm performance: What exactly constitutes a critical mass? Journal of Business Ethics, 118, 61-

Johanson, J., & Vahlne, J. E. (1977). The internationalization process of the firm – A model of knowledge development and increasing foreign market commitments. Journal of International Business Studies, 8(1), 23-

Khan, W. A., & Vieito, J. P. (2013). CEO gender and firm performance. Journal of Economics and Business, 67, 55-66.

La Porta, R., Lopez-de-Silanes, F., & Shleifer, A. (1999). Corporate ownership around the world. Journal of Finance, 54(2), 471-517.

Lerner, J. S., Gonzalez, R. M., Small, D. A., & Fischhoff, B. (2003). Effects of fear and anger on perceived risks of terrorism: A national field experiment. Psychological Science, 14(2), 144-150.

Lessard, D. R. (1985). Principles of international portfolio selection. In D. R. Lessard (Ed.), International Financial Management (pp.16-30). New York: Wiley.

Levi, M., Li, K., & Zhang, F. (2014). Director gender and mergers and acquisitions. Journal of Corporate Finance, 28, 185-200.

Liang, X., Wang, L., & Cui, Z. (2014). Chinese private firms and internationalization: Effects of family involvement in management and family ownership. Family Business Review, 27(2), 126-141.

Liao, L., Luo, L., & Tang, Q. (2015). Gender diversity, board independence, environmental committee and greenhouse gas disclosure. The British Accounting Review, 47(4), 409-424.

Lückerath-Rovers, M. (2013). Women on boards and firm performance. Journal of Management and Governance, 17(2), 491-509.

Mahadeo, J. D., Soobaroyen, T., & Hanuman, V. O. (2012). Board composition and financial performance: Uncovering the effects of diversity in an emerging economy. Journal of Business Ethics, 105, 375-388.

Malmendier, U., & Tate, G. (2005). CEO overconfidence and corporate investment. Journal of Finance, 60(6), 2661-2700.

Niessen, A., & Ruenzi, S. (2006). Sex matter: Gender and mutual funds. Paper presented at Financial Management Association Conference, Stockholm, Sweeden.

Papadopoulos, N., & Martin, O. M. (2010). Toward a model of the relationship between internationalization and export performance. International Business Review, 19, 388-406.

Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (1978). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective. New York: Harper & Row.

Pukall, T. J., & Calabrò A. (2013). The internationalization of family firms: A critical review and integrative model, Family Business Review, 27(2), 103-125.

Reilly, F. K., & Brown, K. C. (2011). Investment analysis and portfolio management. South-Western: Cengage Learning.

Rivas, J. L. (2012). Diversity & internationalization: The case of boards and TMT’s. International Business Review, 21(1), 1-12.

Robichaud, Y., Zinger, T. J., & LeBrasseur, R. (2007). Gender differences within early stage and estabilished small enterprise: An exploratory study. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 3(3), 323-343.

Schubert, M., Brown, M., & Brachinger, H. (2000). Gender specific attitudes towards risk and ambiguity: An experimental investigation. Center for Economic Research, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. Working Paper No.17.

Sciascia, S., Mazzola, P., Astrachan, J. H., & Pieper, T. M. (2012). The role of family ownership in international entrepreneurship: Exploring nonlinear effects. Small Business Economics, 38(1), 15-31.

Terjesen, S., Barbosa Couto, E., & Francisco, P. M. (2016). Does the presence of independent and female directors impact firm performance? A multi-country study of board diversity. Journal of Management and Governance, 20(3), 447-483.

Tihanyi, L., Johnson, R. A., Hoskisson, R. E., & Hitt, M. A. (2003). Institutional ownership differences and international diversification: The effects of boards of directors and technological opportunity. Academy of Management Journal, 46(2), 195-211.

Villalonga, B., & Amit, R. (2006). How do family ownership, control and management affect firm value? Journal of Financial Economics, 80(2), 385-417.

Wang, C., Hong, J., Kafouros, M. and Wright, M. (2012). Exploring the role of government involvement in outward FDI from emerging economies. Journal of International Business Studies, 43(7), 655-676.

Zahra, S. A. (2003). International expansion of US manufacturing family businesses: The effect of ownership and involvement. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(4), 495-512.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Mario Ossorio

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in International Business and Management are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 9375 Rue de Roissy Brossard, Québec, J4X 3A1, Canada 
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http:// Http://

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Research & Development Centre of Sciences and Cultures