Whereas governments are increasingly considering affirmative action programs to increase corporate board diversity, the effect of such programs can be superficial as they do not address the underlying problem, which is women's access to and inclusion in relevant corporate networks. To address this issue, we study the relationship among affirmative action programs (binding gender quotas and non-binding gender targets), director networks, and the number of board positions individual directors hold given their gender. We use personal, professional, and network characteristics of 25,127 unique directors from 2,435 public firms in 32 European countries over the period of 2000 through 2017. We find that in the absence of affirmative action programs, women directors benefit less from their networks than men directors suggesting the existence of a gender gap in network benefits. After the passage of binding gender quotas, this gender gap in network benefits narrows between women and men directors. Overall, this research suggests that binding gender quotas make director networks a more salient tool for hiring women and may help in leveling the playing field in the way these networks are used for achieving top management positions.
We hypothesize that informal bank networks influence corporate credit access in China. Our sample comprises a panel of 515 corporations listed on China's stock exchanges with a total of 1,052 firm-year observations, holding a total of 7,009 major bank loans from 183 distinct banks between 2007 and 2012. Results support the hypothesis that closure in bank networks facilitates credit access. We further show that the positive closure-performance association offers fewer advantages if financial markets and the legal infrastructure are relatively well developed. Our findings contribute to an emergent literature examining how informal networks can productively substitute weak formal institutions, and how the interplay between informal networks and network embeddedness shapes individual and corporate strategies.
Intending to clear space for rigorous integrative research bridging theory and research across East and West, we highlight four conclusions from exceptional data on the networks around Chinese entrepreneurs: (1) The broker networks associated with business success in the West are also associated with success in China; (2) The trust correlates of closed networks in the West are similarly correlated in China; (3) History and trust proven in events emerge as especially important to the Chinese entrepreneurs; (4) High-quality network data on Chinese business leaders are a practical reality. We use the results to define a network perspective on guanxi ties that can be common ground for integrating results across East and West, and guide future research on the role networks play in Chinese business.