The more the merrier? Women in top-management teams and entrepreneurship in established firms

Jacob Lyngsie, Nicolai Foss

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Research summary: We study the association between firms' entrepreneurial outcomes and their gender composition. Though highly topical, there is little solid empirical knowledge of this issue, which calls for an inductive approach. We match a paired-respondent questionnaire survey with population-wide employer-employee data, and find evidence that the presence of female top managers is positively related to entrepreneurial outcomes in established firms. Yet, this relation is conditional on the proportion between male and female top managers. Another finding is that the overall proportion of women in the firm's workforce negatively moderates the relation between female top managers and entrepreneurial outcomes. We discuss various mechanisms that can explain these findings, and argue that they are best understood in terms of the dynamics of social categorization. Managerial summary: We investigate how companies benefit from having more women on the top-management team. We show that beyond a threshold level of female top managers, more women are associated with more entrepreneurial outcomes (more products and services profitably launched). However, this positive effect is weakened in firms that have many women in the workforce. These effects may be explained in terms of the ways employees mentally categorize managers and how this influences their work motivation. We find evidence for such an explanation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)487-505
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • entrepreneurship
  • female leadership advantage
  • gender composition
  • social categorization
  • top-management teams


Dive into the research topics of 'The more the merrier? Women in top-management teams and entrepreneurship in established firms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this