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Women operate differently in the C-Suite, according to new research

Take a look at women’s path to executive positions to see "how one might simultaneously court change and avoid risk," says Lehigh University professor of management Corinne Post


Good morning,

Research has shown that greater representation of women in C-level positions results in positive outcomes. But I had a chat with professors who set out to explore how women in senior-level positions drive better business outcomes—and it all comes down to innovation.

“With our study, we wanted to move the research on female leaders and firm outcomes from its current descriptive nature … to explanatory,” says Corinne Post, a professor of management in Lehigh University’s College of Business, and coauthor of “Research: Adding Women to the C-Suite Changes How Companies Think,” published this month in the Harvard Business Review.

The study indicates that women joining the C-suite may result in an increase in research and development (R&D), and a decrease in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), Post, along with coauthors Boris Lokshin, an associate professor at the department of Organization, Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University, and Christophe Boone, a professor of organization theory and behavior at the Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Antwerp, found.

“After women were appointed to senior positions and firms began to exhibit higher levels of both openness to change and aversion to risk, firms reported an average 1.1% increase in [research and development] R&D investments—and the average total R&D investment of the companies in our sample was $6,538 million, so a 1.1% increase is substantial,” according to the report. 

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