Mo Wang and Aaron Hill
Lanzillotti-McKethan Eminent Scholar Mo Wang and Associate Professor Aaron Hill.

Management faculty awarded NSF grant to study value of diversity on corporate boards

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida Warrington College of Business faculty members Mo Wang, Lanzillotti-McKethan Eminent Scholar, and Aaron Hill, Associate Professor of Management, are among a team of researchers awarded a National Science Foundation grant to study the value of diversity in corporate governance.

Wang, Hill and their research partner Quinetta Connally of Michigan State University have been awarded $350,000 for their project titled, “Diversity as an Organizational Capability: A Multilevel Examination of Board Composition and Firm Effectiveness,” which will run through 2024.

“Several states have instituted diversity requirements for Boards of Directors – but in the midst of the legislation, the evidence about how adding diverse directors affects organization is a bit mixed,” Hill said. “We hope to be able to add some insight about how member directors affect board experiences in ways that impact decision-making and ultimately performance. By knowing how this process unfolds, we can begin to develop practices that improve on-boarding and group functioning.”

Based on the research team’s central hypothesis that board demographic diversity impacts organizational performance through experience-based diversity, Wang, Hill and Connally have three specific project aims. First, to study how board diversity influences organizational strategic actions and subsequent financial performance. Second, to investigate how directors’ demographics are related to their experience-based characteristics and, third, to understand whether the relationships between board diversity and organizational actions and financial performance operate through experience-based diversity.

“One unique aspect of this project is to examine board experience-based diversity as an explanatory mechanism to clarify the impact of board diversity on firm financial performance,” Wang said. “This helps understand how diverse backgrounds of board members truly transcend into organizational capability. Interestingly (and probably not coincidentally), the diverse set of research expertise offered by this research team makes this examination possible.”

Wang has been with the Warrington College of Business since 2011 and served as chair of the department of management since 2017. His research focuses on older worker employment and retirement, occupational health psychology, human resource management and quantitative methods. Wang’s work has yielded more than 200 scholarly publications and appeared in media outlets including BBC News, NPR and The New York Times.

Wang is the founding editor for Work, Aging and Retirement and has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology (2010-2020) and the director for the Science of Organizations Program at NSF (2014-2016). He was recently elected president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), serving the presidential track from 2021-2024. He consults with organizations and government agencies on numerous projects on personnel selection, performance management, leadership development and vocational education.

Wang earned his Ph.D. in I-O and developmental psychology and his master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Peking University in China.

Hill came to Warrington in 2018 from Oklahoma State University. His research focuses on strategic leadership and governance, examining what drives strategic leaders like executives and politicians to act as well as the ultimate implications of these individuals for organizational outcomes.

Hill’s research has been published in outlets such as the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal and Journal of Management, among others. He currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Management and is on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal and Strategic Organization. He received the Journal of Management Outstanding Reviewer Award in 2020 and the Academy of Management Journal Best Reviewer Award in 2017.

Hill earned his Ph.D. in strategic management from Oklahoma State University and his MBA and bachelor’s degree in economics from Gonzaga University.