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2002

Research Briefs

157

quently, that sector of the German VC market is under-represented in the study. Schefczyk and Gerpott's results support the idea that German VCFs engage in different types of involvement depending on PC life-cycle stage. In the early and late stages, they favor board membership; in the expansionary stage, they favor consultative management support. These VCF preferences raise an interesting question. Clearly, VCFs could financially justify consultative management practices when PCs were expanding. However, when PCs were just getting off the ground and may have had a critical need for management support, VCFs were usually content to be represented on the board of directors. They tended to give management support only to PCs in high-growth markets. The German VCFs seemed to feel that the possible benefits of providing intense management support to other earlystage PCs were simply not worth the risk and cost. Schefczyk and Gerpott caution that this attitude is potentially short sighted and warn German VCFs against taking such an all-or-nothing approach to management support. When costs appear to make direct consultative support inadvisable, they suggest that German VCFs consider less costly ways of providing management help (e.g., steering PCs to other sources of support, such as industry associations or universities). Over the long haul, Schefczyk and Gerpott argue, direct and indirect help beyond board membership can reduce the risk of PC bankruptcy and improve returns. Underscoring this advice was the connection Schefczyk and Gerpott found between type of VCF support and PC performance. The most popular type of support, board membership, did not have a positive relationship with PC performance. In fact, the only support type which had a positive relationship was consultative management help. VCFs are serving on boards when what PCs really need is the intense, hands-on management help and expertise that VCFs can provide. Overall, Schefczyk and Gerpott argue that VCFs should move beyond board participation and provide more consultative management support to their PCs, including active involvement in key functional decisions, during all PC life-cycle stages. VCFs need to add to PC shareholder value by working on-site to help PCs with key business decisions that go beyond the scope of company financiais. Unfortunately, the legal structure of many German VCFs prevents them from directly providing broad managerial support. However, these VCFs can still help in specific areas that intersect with their own core competencies, such

as financial decision-making. VCFs can also show PCs how to overcome their internal managerial deficiencies (e.g., by purchasing external consulting expertise or finding partners). Finally, VCFs can find structural alternatives to traditional equity investments, such as silent partnerships. Schefczyk and Gerpott wisely note that individual circumstances and market conditions should be the ultimate determinants of VCF strategy. The authors call for studies with larger samples that collect data over time on such aspects of the VCF-PC relationship as investments, management support, and performance outcomes. Recognizing that some of their findings may reflect unique aspects of the German context, they would also like to see studies that cross national boundaries to determine whether their own results generalize, especially regarding the crucial role of management support.
Source: Schefczyk, M., & Gerpott, T. J. 2001. Management support for portfolio companies of venture capital firms: An empirical study of German venture capital investments. British Journal of Management, 12(3): 201-216.

Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Factors Affecting Women's Advancement into Upper Management
Rebecca ]. Benhett. The University of Toledo

Worldwide, women are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before. No longer is the "typical worker" a man whose wife stays home to care for the children so that he can focus on his career. In the United States alone, more than half of all women are employed today. In the years ahead, half of the people entering the workforce are expected to be female.

Worldwide, women are entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before.
So how are businesses reacting to this trend? Are executives responding to the changing composition of their workforce, or does business continue as usual in the executive suite? Do the women who come in at equal numbers on the ground floor advance as fast as the men, particularly to the upper echelons of management? Or does the glass ceiling trap women in entry-level or, at best, lowermanagement positions? A broader issue is what factors affect the likeli-

So Tharenou wondered if personality traits and external support might play a larger role at earlier stages of one's career. And how might gender factor in? Specifically. But gender mattered too. these findings are reassuring to the extent that they imply that nothing about the system itself is holding women back. however. awstronger role in early advancement for women lihan for men. In short. In firms with mostly males in middle and upper management. women are doing it to themselves by not getting the education or training they need to advance to the top. She assessed employee managerial levels and developed a measure of advancement to capture position changes over two years. surveys also assessed a variety of factors. Targeted affirma- . Tharenou and her colleagues compared women who had successfully ascended into middle and upper management. do any of these elements affect women and men differently? For instance. Interestingly. Women who had worked closely with a female manager and who were employed in organizations with higher proportions of female managers were more likely to be promoted into lower and middle management positions than women who toiled in male-dominated hierarchies. Instead. If women did advance into management within male-dominated hierarchies. If a lack of in-house training and challenging assignments is what's holding women back. challenging work.158 Academy of Management Executive February hood of anyone's advancement in the first place. the findirigs^on't fully explain the under-representation of w d m ^ in senior leadership positions. and the gender composition of the organization's managerial hierarchy. and the number of prior promotions had the strongest impact on advancement from entry level to upper management. career encouragement. This finding implies that women are far less likely than men to advance into and remain in senior positions if women are not already present in upper management. Consistent with earlier research. On the other hand. training. interacting with other factors in coniplex ways. Men were riot less likely to be promoted when women were more proportionately represented at all levels of management. in an earlier study using a onetime snapshot of employees. She surveyed nearly 2. Tharenou found that education. However. self-confidence and the presence of a male-dominated hierarchy did not appear to have a significant effect on women's advancement or lack thereof. women with better training. does ambition enhance women's advancement opportunities in the same way it does for men? Tharenou's prior snapshot of women already at upper levels of management had been unable to address such issues. including employee ambition. and stronger educational credentials were more likely to have made it into senior positions. Her longitudinal research allowed Tharenou to track the factors that guided ascent to management for both women and men. On the one hand. particularly if women are half of the workforce. men's advancement was not affected by the management hierarchy's gender composition. external factors played. Consequently. Taking this longitudinal approach was an improvement over prior research and allowed Tharenou to make comparisons over time about those who advanced into management and those who did not. Ambition and focus on getting a job done also predicted advancement. women had a lower rate of advancement than men. including the fact that women in the sample were already an elite group of managerial survivors. Tharenou felt that this earlier work had some key limitations.500 publijA and private-sector employees at different points ni time over c!Hwo-year period. the only factors left to explain differences in their advancement might be differences in training and education. As it turned out. these women may have shared similar traits and may already have overcome barriers such as the lack of female role models in upper management. That shortcoming motivated Tharenou's study of employees over time. they were more likely than men to decline in level over time. be difficult to change through internal organizational procedures. women's under-representation in upper management may Women are far less likely than men to advance into and remain in senior positions if women are not already present in upper management. In other words. Are the factors that help employees advance into lower and upper management different? What role does gender play? Do the personality traits and external factors that help men advance also help women? These are among the questions that Phyllis Tharenou of Monash University set out to answer in her research. then human resource departments should advocate equal-access development programs or risk exposure to disparate-treatment lawsuits. For instance. As such. For example. challenging work. it may require external interventions in the form of law. To determine what factors influenced advancement.

who may be more open to change and more willing to \ Yesterday's News or the Cream of the Crop? Choosing Which Managers to Keep After an Acquisition James G. they may inhibit the strategic flexibility that is so vital after an acquisition. we don't know what other executive characteristics acquiring firms should look for as they attempt to identify and retain the best management talent from their acquisitions. this view predicts that acquisitions are more likely to succeed if long-tenured managers are retained. except for trying to retain the very top officers. From one perspective. Since education. This perspective argues that longtenured executives are more likely to possess unique knowledge regarding the firm's culture and to have long-standing relationships with key customers. Tharenou's results suggest that organizations. dramatic strategic and structural changes are often necessary to integrate an acquisition into existing operations. perhaps because they have more obstacles to face in the first place. such as the CEO or president. but not men. 2001. And that's where short-tenured executives. Florida State University Too many corporate acquisitions fail. it's hard to build a critical mass of women who can benefit from a climate of encouragement and rise far enough to crack the glass ceiling separating them from upper management. supervisors might be better trained to assess management potential and encourage those subordinates with promise. Because long-tenured executives are often committed to the status quo. employees. P. making the most of these valuable assets is in the long-term best interest of organizations. Without that help. A case can also be made for the opposite view: retaining long-tenured executives may actually hurt the chances for post-acquisition success. 1005-1017. . Research has shown that the odds improve if the acquiring firm can retain the acquired firm's highest-ranking executives. organizations should consider ways to encourage and assist women who might benefit from further development. retaining executives who have been with the firm for a long time is more important to post-acquisition success than retaining executives who have only been on scene for a short period. Going up? Do traits and informal social processes predict advancing in management? Academy of Management Journal. In other words. For instance. Doing so is not easy. who received early encouragement from peers and supervisors were more likely to have moved into upper management two years later rather than to have fallen back into lower management. Bergh put to the test two theoretical perspectives that offer us conflicting answers. Clearly. Losing up to sixty percent of an acquisition's top managers is not uncommon. Nevertheless. As a result. Within this context Donald Bergh of Pennsylvania State University investigated whether an acquisition is more likely to succeed if the acquiring firm retains long-tenured or short-tenured highranking managers. suppliers.2002 Research Briefs 159 tive action may need to continue if women are to be hired for managerial positions they have not previously or have only infrequently held. particularly at higher levels. acquisition activity continues at a brisk pace. losing up to sixty percent of an acquisition's top managers is not uncommon. Tharenou's results suggest that a climate of encouragement may help women to crack and break through the glass ceiling and achieve their full potential. Another external factor found by Tharenou to affect the advancement of women was interpersonal support. Such failures represent an alarming loss of shareholder wealth. If they are to do so. especially women and minorities. training. He judged an acquisition to be successful if it survived as a part of the acquiring firm for five years. they should give the acquired firm's important stakeholders a sense of consistency and stability in the midst of major organizational change. In many cases. Hoover. By retaining long-tenured executives. especially those with male-dominated hierarchies. In fact. 44(5). and challenging work also seem to play an important role in advancement. Source: Tharenou. Consequently. Unfortunately. This gender difference suggests that women who want high management positions may need more encouragement and external support than men. Women. and other stakeholders. Combs & Vera L. much of the firm-specific knowledge held by long-tenured executives may be irrelevant. To help resolve the question. must help women advance into the lower and middle management ranks. about half of all acquired firms are eventually shut down or sold by the acquirer. so acquiring firms should try to improve their odds of success. the management of the acquiring firm demonstrates that it values stability as well as the acquisition's existing strategies.