Appointing female CEOs in risky and precarious firm circumstances. A review of the glass cliff phenomenon

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Following thirty years of discussion of the “glass ceiling,” recent
empirical research has focused on the relatively new phenomenon
of women on the board of directors – the so-called “glass cliff.”
This refers to a form of gender discrimination in which women are
more often appointed to leadership positions in risky and
precarious business circumstances than their male counterparts.
Highlighting the key findings of current quantitative and
qualitative research, this literature review assesses existing
support for the glass cliff hypothesis and the limitations of
empirical research and recommendations. Most of the included
studies find support for the glass cliff, in which “think crisis, think
female” stereotypes complement the traditional “think leadership,
think male” approach. As archival and other studies have been
conducted predominantly in Anglo-American countries, future
research should extend to other methods and settings. In contrast
to the recent literature, the present review draws a clear
distinction between archival, experimental and qualitative
research, so increasing interest and relevance for practitioners,
regulators and researchers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Ownership & Control
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2018