Board Diversity and Company Performance: Professor Barbara Sveva Magnanelli

Professor Barbara Sveva Magnanelli holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Ph.D. in Management with a specialization in Accounting from LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, Italy. In 2015, she was a visiting researcher at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia.  She teaches Accounting and Management at JCU. Professor Magnanelli recently published Corporate Governance and Diversity in Boardrooms. Empirical Insights into the Impact on Firm Performance, co-authored with Luca Pirolo (Palgrave 2021).   

Professor Barbara Sveva Magnanelli

Professor Barbara Sveva Magnanelli

What brought you to JCU?
I applied for a position at JCU driven by the curiosity of teaching in an American university and by the desire to work in an international environment. I joined the Business Administration department in 2012 as a lecturer in Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting and now I am assistant professor in Accounting and Management.

Your research is focused on corporate governance. What drew you to this topic?
Everything started when I had to decide my Ph.D. thesis’ topic. I chose to focus on financial statement frauds, due to the relevance of the topic after the major failures that occurred worldwide between 2000 and 2010, even in large international corporations. Thus, I decided to investigate the corporate governance mechanisms that can lead to such failures. Since I enjoyed the topic very much, I continued to explore various aspects of firms’ corporate governance systems.

What’s one interesting fact that emerged from your research?
The most interesting aspect is that corporate governance continuously impacts the firm in several ways and it will always be a current topic because of new laws and reforms that constantly change the institutional and business environment. What is also interesting is that the same characteristics can have different impacts on firms depending on the country in which they operate or the ownership structure they present. Thus, each context requires an in-depth analysis and can present its own unique features.

Congratulations on publishing your new book Corporate Governance and Diversity in Boardrooms. Tell us more about it.
I developed a keen interest in gender diversity when the law on mandatory gender quotas was introduced in Italy as a result of the increasing pressure from the European Union and the experiences of other countries.

I published some papers on the gender diversity issue, and at the same time, I started to investigate other diversity aspects that can characterize a Board of Directors. Diversity, not only in boardrooms, is a very relevant topic that involves both economic and psychological factors. Diversity refers not only to gender, but also to education, professional background, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics that may affect the way people behave and act. Starting from these considerations, the book reviews the literature and presents an empirical investigation of the impact of several features of diversity on firm performance, measured with both accounting and market variables.

What is your teaching methodology?
My teaching method is based on very interactive classes. I always try to combine lectures with practical examples and exercises. The accounting subjects I teach can be learned only by spending several hours doing exercises and analyzing real firms’ financial statements. Only with practice can one deeply understand how the “firm’s numbers” work and what they communicate to us.

Tell us about a challenge that you encountered in your professional life. How did you overcome it?
As a mother of three small children, the challenge is to balance work life with family every day! The passion I have for my work and also for my family is the tool I use to overcome it.