Article | Social Science Research | May 2011

Race at the Top: How Companies Shape the Inclusion of African Americans on Their Boards in Response to Institutional Pressures

by Clayton S. Rose and William T. Bielby

Abstract

Drawing on institutionalist theory, we conceptualize the racial composition of the boards of directors of large American companies as shaped in response to social and political norms. We use new longitudinal and cross-sectional data to test hypotheses about factors that shape the degree of racial inclusion on boards of directors among large public corporations, and we draw upon in-depth interviews with key participants to gain insights into the mechanisms that are likely to have generated the patterns we detect in our statistical models. We find evidence suggesting that large American corporations manage the racial composition of their elite leadership groups in response to these norms.

Keywords: Leadership; Governing and Advisory Boards; Race Characteristics; Mathematical Methods; Government and Politics; Public Ownership; United States;

Citation:

Rose, Clayton S., and William T. Bielby. "Race at the Top: How Companies Shape the Inclusion of African Americans on Their Boards in Response to Institutional Pressures." Social Science Research 40, no. 3 (May 2011): 841–859.