While diversity might give an organization a competitive advantage, individuals have a tendency to prefer homogenous group settings. Prior research suggests that group members who are dissimilar (vs. similar) to their peers in terms of a given diversity attribute (e.g. demographics, attitudes, values or traits) feel less attached to their work group, experience less satisfying and more conflicted relationships with their colleagues, and consequently are less effective. However, prior empirical findings tend to be weak and inconsistent, and it remains unclear when, how and to what extent such differences affect group members’ social integration (i.e. attachment with their work group, satisfaction and conflicted relationships with their peers) and effectiveness. To address these issues the current study conducted a meta-analysis and integrated the empirical results of 129 studies. For demographic diversity attributes (such as gender, ethnicity, race, nationality, age, functional background, and tenure) the findings support the idea that demographic dissimilarity undermines individual member performance via lower levels of social integration. These negative effects were more pronounced in pseudo teams – i.e. work groups in which group members pursue individual goals, work on individual tasks, and are rewarded for their individual performance. These negative effects were however non-existent in real teams - i.e. work groups in which groups members pursue group goals, work on interdependent tasks, and are rewarded (at least partially) based on their work group’s performance. In contrast, for underlying psychological diversity attributes (such as attitudes, personality, and values), the relationship between dissimilarity and social integration was more negative in real teams than in pseudo teams, which in return translated into even lower individual performance. At the same time however, differences in underlying psychological attributes had an even stronger positive effect on dissimilar group member’s individual performance, when the negative effects of social integration were controlled for. This implies that managers should implement real work groups to overcome the negative effects of group member’s demographic dissimilarity. To harness the positive effects of group members’ dissimilarity on underlying psychological attributes, they need to make sure that dissimilar group members become socially integrated.
|Number of pages||47|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2009|
|Name||Aston Business School research papers|
- individual effectiveness
- relational demography
- social integration