The impact of cultural diversity in corporate boards on firm performance

B Frijns*, O Dodd, H Cimerova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We examine the impact of cultural diversity in boards of directors on firm performance. We construct a measure of national cultural diversity by calculating the average of cultural distances between board members using Hofstede's culture framework. Our findings indicate that national cultural diversity in boards negatively affects firm performance measured by Tobin's Q and ROA. These results hold after controlling for potential endogeneity using firm fixed effects and instrumental variables regressions. Further, the results are robust to controlling for a wide range of board and firm characteristics, including various measures of “foreignness” of the firm, alternative culture frameworks, and other measures of culture. The negative impact of cultural diversity on performance is mitigated by the complexity of the firm and the size of foreign sales and operations. In addition, we find that the negative effects of cultural diversity are concentrated among the independent directors. Finally, we find that not all aspects of cultural differences are equally important and that it is mainly the diversity in individualism and masculinity that affects the effectiveness of boards of directors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-541
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Corporate Finance
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Board diversity
  • Cultural distance
  • Cultural diversity
  • Firm performance


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