Exploring the black box in Brazilian work groups: a study of diversity, conflict and performance

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Over the last few decades, several studies have been conducted to examine the complex relationships between team diversity and individual and organizational outcomes. Although, in theory, team diversity can foster positive organizational synergies by increasing the variance of perspectives and approaches to work different members can bring, the same idiosyncratic characteristics can also engender significant difficulties resulting from problems in coordination, communication and conflict. This study used a sample of 44 work groups to examine the influence of five types of diversity on team outcomes and the mediating role of task and relational conflict on this relationship. A survey of 279 team members and interviews with the 44 team managers were used to examine these relationships. Findings suggest that different forms of diversity impact task conflict in different ways, which in turn is negatively associated with job satisfaction and team performance. Results further show that diversity is unrelated to relational conflict; however, this type of conflict seems to hinder both job satisfaction and team performance. Overall, these patterns suggest a complex link between team diversity and how work groups function.

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