On a Web site called “They Rule” users can find out who sat on the boards of directors of the top 100 U.S. companies in 2004. Josh On, the creator of the site, depicts the directors as suited men and women standing around a board table. He drew the figures so that the more directorships a person holds, the fatter he or she is. Casually clicking around the site uncovers a lot of chubby men.

A recent study in the Academy of Management Journal (vol. 50) suggests both how these directors grew so...

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