Study Debunks Theory That Women CEOs Are More Risk-Adverse Than Male Peers

A new study led by researchers at the University of Georgia has challenged the common stereotype that women CEOs are more risk-adverse than their male peers.

Acquiring other organizations has been considered a key measure of strategic decision-making skills among CEOs. Although women CEOs make less acquisitions than men overall, the study found no difference in their acquisitions when they are faced with high levels of scrutiny, such as pressure from stakeholders and media attention.

The research team theorizes their findings could be explained by previous research that has found women and men differ in their information-processing behaviors, with women more likely to take a more detailed and deliberate analysis of information. They suggest that with more time to dig through information regarding potential acquisitions, women CEOs may find more reasons to not proceed with an acquisition. However, when they are experiencing pressure from internal and external sources, their decision-making regarding acquisitions does not differ from men. Therefore, the team argues that the number of organizations acquired by women is not an accurate measure of their risk-taking abilities as a CEO.

The authors write their “findings are important, as they hold the potential to shift the conversation around CEO gender to a broader view that considers how the specific contexts in which these CEOs operate influence how they seek, filter, and interpret information during decision-making.”

In addition to the University of Georgia, the research team consisted of scholars from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Boise State University in Idaho, and the University of Alberta in Canada.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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