"Global organisations seeking to expand their female leadership ranks need to understand which kind of culture they are operating in to take the right approach, the authors suggested."
Toronto, July 19 - Gender quota to bring more women to the boardroom is more effective in countries with tight cultures that have a lower tolerance for deviation from cultural norms, says a study.
Tight cultures tend to have the worst rates of female leadership but the compliance they command can be used to advantage, making gender quota strategies much more effective, researchers said.
It all comes down to a culture's 'tightness' or 'looseness' -- the degree to which a culture maintains social norms, adheres to authority structures and tolerates deviations from them, explained professor Soo Min Toh from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management in Canada.
Norway, considered a tight culture, achieved a target of 40 percent of women in director positions at public companies by 2007 through a quota that included dissolution of those firms that failed to meet the threshold.
It is easier for 'tight' cultures to implement policies like that because of the top-down approach to policy-making, Toh added.
In a 'loose' culture however, it is very hard to say: 'This is how we are going to do it, so there.'
Loose cultures, although exhibiting higher rates of gender egalitarianism overall, may be at a disadvantage for advancing the cause because of problems in getting agreement on how to translate egalitarian principles into practice.
Global organisations seeking to expand their female leadership ranks need to understand which kind of culture they are operating in to take the right approach, the authors suggested.
The study appeared in the journal Organizational Dynamics.