On Varying Institutions among U.S. States: Historical Origins and Contemporary Organizational Implications

Early U.S. residents have left statewide institutional imprints based on their religion. As a result, such imprints have affected firm leadership structures through varying institutions across U.S. states. Using a firm-level longitudinal dataset (1992 to 2017) and a supplementary state-level investigation (1776 to 2017), as well as a wide range of further analyses and robustness checks, I find that the size and ratio of the Protestant population when U.S. states were admitted to the Union have negatively affected the number of hierarchical ranks and positively influenced female representation in top management teams of publicly traded firms. The effect has been partly channeled through formal and informal institutions promoting equality. In addition, historical Catholic immigration waves to different states have weakened this effect. My study contributes to a more nuanced understanding of institutional formation from a historical perspective and at the subnational level. I also contribute to imprinting theory by considering imprinting dynamics and developing a regional-level, institutional imprinting perspective.