Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Hans P Schmitz, PhD, Co-chair; Fred J. Galloway, PhD, Co-chair; Taylor Peyton, PhD, Member; Vivek Mande, PhD, Member;


Demographic, cognitive, functional, Tobin’s Q, tokenism, groupthink


This study examined the influence of demographic, functional, and cognitive diversities on firm performance of North American Biotech companies using a mixed method explanatory sequential approach. One-year cross-sectional data of 100 companies was analyzed followed by purposeful semistructured interviews with eight board members from the dataset. The combined results resolved several ambiguities present in the literature regarding board selection, composition, and the correlation of board diversity with firm performance. This study used the well-known market-based financial metric Tobin’s Q to measure firm performance.

The quantitative results showed a dichotomous relationship between gender ratio and Tobin’s Q based on a theoretically determined shift in performance at 22% gender ratio. Firm performance or Tobin’s Q was negative for gender ratio less than or equal to 22% highlighting that “tokenism” did not enhance performance and positive for gender ratio greater than 22%. The gender interaction effect analysis using the slope dummy variable approach indicated small to midsize firms with low Tobin’s Q attracted more women, and vice versa, alluding to an endogenous relationship.

The qualitative results complemented the quantitative findings with respect to rank ordering of the diversity attributes, board selection process, and strategies for a diverse and inclusive board. The preference for different diversity attributes was dependent on the complexity of the business, board size, and the life cycle of a company. The findings led me to conclude that a combination of diversity attributes is required to meet a board’s objectives versus a single diversity attribute. Participants suggested that boards prefer all forms of diversity as it gains from different perspectives of members while avoiding the trap of “groupthink.” Further, the board selection process varies according to the board size and is generally through a professional network with the CEO or a board member and in some cases search firms.

The supply deficit of underrepresented groups can be mitigated through succession planning and grooming the next set of executive leaders. Central to this strategy is the willingness of the executive leadership to change the board dynamics and power structure to enable a more diverse and inclusive board.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Saturday, February 11, 2023