North American Corporate Directors and Educational Affiliations: A Geographical Analysis

  • Sean B. O’Hagan Nipissing University
  • Murray D. Rice University of North Texas
  • Milford B. Green University of Western Ontario
Keywords: Corporate Governance, Corporate Geography, Boards of Directors, Educational Affiliations


The importance of the modern corporation, as an employer, customer, charitable donor, developer, investment venue, and simply as a community member, means that the processes by which it is governed are of importance to society as a whole. One key element of this governance system is the corporation’s board of directors. Boards have come under increased scrutiny in recent years because of a variety of scandals and bankruptcies where boards have played, or should have played, key roles. A vast literature has developed around corporate boards, but one area in which research has been lacking relates to the geography of boards and board membership. This paper attempts to close this gap by exploring the boards of directors of Canadian and American companies and analyzing the geography of a key component of their social networks, their educational affiliations. The study examines the universities and university cities that are most central to the North American interlocking network, investigates the differences in university alumni network behavior that exist between the two countries, and focuses particularly on the very few cities that host the most elite of universities. The results of this research demonstrate that a very few universities and university cities have influential positions within the North American directorate network, that by comparison with the US the Canadian director network is more diverse and international in outlook in terms of its in its selection of directors, and that Boston is alone among the top university cities in having a wide-spread influence in terms of local alumni placed with top boards across North America. The study interprets these results and calls for further research into corporate governance and networking.


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