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Hayam Wahba ORCID logo, Khaled Kadry Elsayed


Most prior studies have argued that the relationship between firm complexity and board size is a monotonic one: complex firm tend to have a large board size. Contrary to previous work, it is hypothesized in this study that this relationship is more likely to be moderated by board leadership structure. Using a sample of 92 Egyptian listed firms over the period from 2000 to 2004, we found that firm complexity exerted a positive and significant coefficient on board size when the firm adopts a leadership structure that separates the roles of CEO and chairman. However, the incremental effect of firm complexity on board size was negative and significant for firms that combine the roles of CEO and chairman (i.e., CEO duality). This study provides supportive evidence for the argument that firms are more likely to manipulate their boards’ characteristics to attain organizational adaptation at the minimum total cost. Thus, studying of one main characteristic of the board of directors without taking into account the expected effect of other characteristics may lead to inconclusive evidence. This study offers insights to practising managers and policy makers. If practising managers want to maximize the value of their firms, they need to broaden their insight to understand that board characteristics are multidimensional, contingent and dynamic in their nature and differ not only across firms and industry, but also across countries. Moreover, before developing and launching new and additional corporate governance reforms, policy makers need to realize that differences in corporate governance systems cannot be fully explained outside their institutional environments.

Keywords: Corporate Governance, Board Leadership Structure, Board Size, CEO Duality, Firm Complexity

How to cite this paper: Wahba, H., Elsayed, K. (2010). Firm complexity and corporate board size: testing the moderating effect of board leadership structure. Corporate Ownership & Control, 7(4), 114-126.