A team is a union of two or more people to achieve particular goals. Formal teams are the groups that function within the structure of a particular organization. Contemporary management is hard to perceive without such structure as teams. The fact that managing each member personally is an extremely ineffective activity was already proven a long time ago. In that regard, one of the main tasks for any leader is creating effective mechanisms for creating teams and groups.
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A well-coordinated team has more chances for success than a team where each member would operate independently. Accordingly, the effectiveness of teamwork can be influenced by many factors. This paper analyzes the impact of teams’ diversity on the effectiveness of the group’s performance.
Under the term diversity, many different contexts can be established. In general, diversity might include all the possible variations of differences in groups. Such variations might include age, gender, personality, ethnicity, etc. However, in the context of this paper, a narrower definition of diversity would be chosen, i.e. the diversity based on ethnicity.
Earlier researches indicated contradictory results regarding the diversity influence on the work outcomes. On the one hand, it was found that diverse groups are more creative in reaching a decision, while on the other hand, diverse groups are less integrated. (Mayo & Pastor, 2008). Accordingly, team diversity in the context of social networks, where it was suggested that team behaviors are critical mediating variables, were proven to be affected either positively or negatively if compared to homogeneous groups. Analyzing several diversity factors among which race was one of the factors, a study showed that racial diversity had a “statistically significant negative direct effect on supervisors’ evaluations of task performance.” (Mayo & Pastor, 2008).
In another study that examined the relationship between ethnic-gender diversity and performance among a group of students, it was found that ethnic diversity is shown to have a negative impact on group outcomes. (Umans, Collin, & Tagesson, 2008). The results of such a study indicate the need to manage ethnic diversity in order for the group to assess the benefits.
At the same time, the analysis of the same ethnic diversity factor conducted in small groups showed exactly opposite results in terms of the group’s creativity. A study conducted on studying the effect of ethnic diversity in groups on brainstorming tasks found that heterogeneous groups have a performance advantage over homogenous groups, producing “higher quality solutions to a business case analysis and reported more favorable group process and superior performance” (McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1996). At the same time, members of ethnically diverse groups may have more negative affective reactions to their groups than homogeneous groups.
It can be seen that diverse groups vary in their effectiveness based on factors resulting from the group diversity. In that sense, it can be assumed that a group’s diversity is an inevitable component of teamwork, especially when ethnic diversity becoming more and more common. Thus, the team’s effectiveness is merely potential, if the group was not effectively coordinated. Nevertheless, this potential can be effectively used, if proper communication was established, especially in the idea generating sector. Accordingly, communication difficulties might result in negative outcomes. In that regard, the task of a manager or a leader, as previously indicated, in providing proper mechanisms for the work coordination within teams, can prove to be of great importance, specifically when the groups have the potential to produce better outcomes.
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Mayo, M., & Pastor, J. C. (2008). Networks and Effectiveness in Work Teams: The Impact of Diversity. Web.
McLeod, P. L., Lobel, S. A., & Cox, T. H., Jr. (1996). Ethnic Diversity and Creativity in Small Groups. Small Group Research, 27(2), 248-264.
Umans, T., Collin, S.-O., & Tagesson, T. (2008). Ethnic and gender diversity, process and performance in groups of business students in Sweden (Vol. 19).