Follow Him or Her? CEO Gender and Inter-organizational Imitation of Corporate Strategies
Prof. Abhinav Gupta
Professor of Management
Foster School of Business
The University of Washington
Prior research suggests focal firms are likelier to imitate some industry-peer firms than others. We extend this research to argue that the imitability of firms’ strategic actions will also be influenced by the gender of the CEOs leading those firms. Integrating insights from gender research, we hypothesize that the female CEOs’ strategic actions will be imitated at a lower rate than their male counterparts. We further posit that the focal CEO’s gender and political ideology will moderate the effect of the referent CEO’s gender. Using a longitudinal sample of S&P 1500 firms, we find broad support for our theory. Moreover, this differential rate of imitability suggests a “hidden female advantage”; our supplementary analyses show that lower imitation proneness predicts higher firm performance among female-led firms.