Managing Team Diversity in the Workplace
- Maartje Schouten, Maartje SchoutenDepartment of Management, Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University
- Jasmien KhattabJasmien KhattabRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
- and Phoebe PahngPhoebe PahngIvy College of Business, Iowa State University
The study of team diversity has generated a large amount of research because of the changing nature of workplaces as they become more diverse and work becomes more organized around teams. Team diversity describes the variation among team members in terms of any attribute in which individuals may differ. Examples are demographic background diversity, functional or educational diversity, and personality diversity. Diversity can be operationalized as categorical (variety), continuous (separation), or vertical (disparity).
Initial research on team diversity was dominated by a main-effects approach that produced two main perspectives: social-categorization scholars suggested that diversity hurts team outcomes, as it decreases feelings of cohesion and increases dysfunctional conflict, whereas the information and decision-making perspective suggested that diversity helps team outcomes, as it makes more information available in the team to help with decision-making. In an effort to integrate these disparate insights, the categorization-elaboration model (CEM) proposed that team diversity can lead both to social categorization and to information elaboration on the basis of contextual factors that may give rise to either process. The CEM has received widespread support in research, but a number of questions about the processes through which diversity has an effect on team outcomes remain.