Exploring Female Leadership Advancement in Chinese Corporations: Selection for Senior Positions through Headhunting
Leadership diversity has evoked tremendous debate for decades. This includes the profitability and creativity of organizations and the realization of social capital. In this regard, governments have initiated numerous programs to increase gender equality in leadership positions. A wealth of academic research has also been conducted to investigate factors influencing the paucity of women in the elite leadership group. One noticeable element at the organizational level is the way in which female leaders are selected. Given the increasing proportion of leadership selection conducted through headhunters, this thesis aims at investigating how headhunting influences female leadership progression in the Chinese context. Because the research focuses on meanings and interpretations of female headhunting practices, it employed a qualitative methodology. Consequently, 13 in-depth interviews were carried out in China. In order to make the results more representative, the diverse sample was dispersed not only in Mainland China but in Taiwan. The semi-structured interviews enabled the researcher to gain a deep understanding of how females are selected as well as the underlying elements that can exert influence on the selection results. The findings revealed that the headhunting of female leaders is not a simple or straightforward process. It is influenced by contextual constraints, the recruitment and selections used by headhunters, and no doubt, headhunters’ competency. Also, these issues are influenced by cultural beliefs, economic, and political factors in the Chinese context. Among them, political factors are powerful and interact with cultural and economic factors. They produce gendered results.