School of Business and Law
Università degli Studi di Padova. Grant Number: Internal research grant
The strategy role of the board of directors is a contentious topic in both theory and practice and the debate on what boards should or should not do around firm strategy has intensified with changes in global corporate governance. Boards face interventionist regulatory developments, calls for changes in their composition, growing owner engagement, and societal questioning on the corporation's very purpose. With this review, we aim to assess how the research agenda in this area has evolved with these developments.
Our analysis of 152 articles published in 45 high-quality journals between 2008 and 2020 reveals that the board-strategy literature remains dominated by traditional input–output approaches using archival data. There are, however, some green shoots opening up the debate by recognizing the importance of the firm's specific context, applying alternative or complementary theoretical lenses, exploring the underlying dynamics and processes, and using more sophisticated modeling techniques.
We identify three research directions with the potential to advance the research agenda, namely, untangling the complex, multilevel interplay between stakeholders involved in the strategy process, embracing the processual and temporal nature of the board-strategy relationship, and unpacking the impact of social context to understand when boards matter for strategy.
Our results indicate that the strategy role of the board is evolving and broadening. Most notably the integration of CSR-related themes into the board-strategy debate, and the leveraging of board diversity in strategic decision-making appear to be important issues for contemporary boards.
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