Damon Phillips

Interorganizational Determinants of Promotion: Client Leadership and the Attainment of Women Attorneys

Coauthor(s): Christine Beckman.

Explanations of gender inequality typically emphasize individual characteristics, the structure of internal labor markets, or pressures from the institutional environment. Extending the structuralist and institutional perspectives, this article argues that the demographic composition of an organization's exchange partners can influence the demographic composition of the focal organization when the focal organization is dependent upon its partners. Specifically, law firms with women-led corporate clients increase the number of partners who are women attorneys. Data on elite law firms and their publicly traded clients support a bargaining power hypothesis whereby law firms promote women attorneys when their corporate clients have women in three key leadership positions: general (legal) counsel, chief executive officer, and board director. These effects are stronger when the law firm has few clients, reinforcing the hypothesis that interorganizational influence is more vital when a focal organization is dependent on its exchange partner. The results also support a related explanation based on homophily theory. The analysis rules out several alternative explanations and establishes a relationship between the presence of women-led clients and the promotion of women attorneys in law firms.

Source: American Sociological Review
Exact Citation:
Beckman, Christine, and Damon Phillips. "Interorganizational Determinants of Promotion: Client Leadership and the Attainment of Women Attorneys." American Sociological Review 70, no. 4 (August 2005): 678-701.
Volume: 70
Number: 4
Pages: 678-701
Date: 8 2005