Measurement of work group diversity

  • Jeremy Dawson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Whilst research on work group diversity has proliferated in recent years, relatively little attention has been paid to the precise definition of diversity or its measurement. One of the few studies to do so is Harrison and Klein’s (2007) typology, which defined three types of diversity – separation, variety and disparity – and suggested possible indices with which they should be measured.
However, their typology is limited by its association of diversity types with variable measurement, by a lack of clarity over the meaning of variety, and by the absence of a clear guidance about which diversity index should be employed.
In this thesis I develop an extended version of the typology, including four diversity types (separation, range, spread and disparity), and propose specific indices to be used for each type of diversity with each variable type (ratio, interval, ordinal and nominal). Indices are chosen or derived from first principles based on the precise definition of the diversity type. I then test the usefulness of these indices in predicting outcomes of diversity compared with other indices, using both an extensive simulated data set (to estimate the effects of mis-specification of diversity type or index) and eight real data sets (to examine whether the proposed indices produce the strongest relationships with hypothesised outcomes).
The analyses lead to the conclusion that the indices proposed in the typology are at least as good as, and usually better than, other indices in terms of both measuring effect sizes and power to find significant results, and thus provide evidence to support the typology. Implications for theory and methodology are discussed.
Date of Award8 Feb 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSamuel N Aryee (Supervisor)


  • work group diversity
  • diversity measurement
  • typology
  • simulation

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