November 30, 2022

Volume XII, Number 334

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November 30, 2022

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November 29, 2022

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November 28, 2022

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Does Your Surname Define Your Cultural Ancestry?

In a recent paper, four authors attempt to assess board cultural diversity and firm performance under competitive pressures.  The authors conclude that "culturally diverse boards are associated with superior performance for firms operating in highly competitive industries".  I wondered how these authors determined cultural diversity.

It turns out that the authors determined a director’s ancestry using their last name and mapping the likely country of origin of that last name following recent literature.  This strikes me as a highly unreliable way of determining ancestry.  First of all, many people have mixed ancestry.  Second, last names are patronymic in many cultures.  What about the mother's culture?  Third, people emigrate.  Someone whose ancestor emigrated to the United States may have little or no knowledge of, much less identification with, the culture of his or her ancestor even though they have the same name.  Fourth, people change their last names for a variety of reasons.  For example, Charlie Sheen's name at birth was Carlos Irwin Estevez.   Finally, the article is premised on the notion that an director's diversity is only determined by group membership.  This ignores the fact that each of us is wonderfully unique.  Given these obvious problems, it is difficult to credit any of the authors' conclusions. 

© 2010-2022 Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 280
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About this Author

Keith Paul Bishop, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, finance securities attorney, Allen Matkins Law Firm
Partner

Keith Bishop works with privately held and publicly traded companies on federal and state corporate and securities transactions, compliance, and governance matters. He is highly-regarded for his in-depth knowledge of the distinctive corporate and regulatory requirements faced by corporations in the state of California.

While many law firms have a great deal of expertise in federal or Delaware corporate law, Keith’s specific focus on California corporate and securities law is uncommon. A former California state regulator of securities and financial institutions, Keith has decades of...

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