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Board Diversity and Firm Performance Volatility


  • Giannetti, Mariassunta
  • Zhao, Mengxin


Diverse directors may have diverse preferences over firms’ policies and objectives. As shown by Arrow (1951), diverse individual preferences may fail to univocally aggregate in collective preferences and may consequently lead to arbitrary and volatile decisions. Using the board of directors as a laboratory, we test whether diversity leads to higher performance volatility. We show that firms with more diverse boards have greater stock return and fundamental volatility suggesting that board diversity indeed makes decision-making more erratic. Also, firms with diverse boards have less persistent strategies and analysts make larger forecast errors in predicting their performance supporting the conjecture that board members’ diverse preferences lead to hard to predict decisions. Consistent with the presence of conflicts in the boardroom, we find that executive and director turnovers are higher in firms with diverse boards. These firms also have more board meetings. We find no evidence that our results may be driven by firm risk-taking or complexity.

Suggested Citation

  • Giannetti, Mariassunta & Zhao, Mengxin, 2016. "Board Diversity and Firm Performance Volatility," CEPR Discussion Papers 11155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11155

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    Cited by:

    1. Rizzo, Emanuele, 2018. "Essays on corporate governance and the impact of regulation on financial markets," Other publications TiSEM b5158260-ea13-4763-b992-6, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Jaspersen, Stefan & Limbach, Peter, 2018. "Knowing Me, Knowing You? Similarity to the CEO and Fund Managers' Investment Decisions," Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181501, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. repec:eee:jfinec:v:127:y:2018:i:3:p:588-612 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jaspersen, Stefan & Limbach, Peter, 2017. "Knowing Me, Knowing You? Similarity to the CEO and Fund Managers’ Investment Decisions," CFR Working Papers 17-02, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).

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