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Keywords:

  • board characteristics;
  • director gender;
  • mergers and acquisitions;
  • corporate governance;
  • strategic leadership

This study examines the impact of female board representation on firm-level strategic behavior within the domain of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). We build on social identity theory to predict that greater female representation on a firm's board will be negatively associated with both the number of acquisitions the firm engages in and, conditional on doing a deal, acquisition size. Using a comprehensive, multiyear sample of U.S. public firms, we find strong support for our hypotheses. We demonstrate the robustness of our findings through the use of a difference-in-differences analysis on a subsample of firms that experienced exogenous changes in board gender composition as a result of director deaths. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.