Prior research on demographic diversity in work teams has yielded mixed results, with the effects of team diversity ranging from positive to neutral to negative. This article shows that an improved understanding of the relationship between team diversity and team performance can be reached by considering the combined effects of team diversity and demographic social context. We hypothesized that three aspects of the social context would moderate the effects of demographic diversity on performance: the combination of diversity dimensions within a team, the demographic characteristics of the team manager, and the demography of the work unit. In a study of 365 sales teams distributed across 42 sales districts in a large U.S. company, we found support for the general proposition that the demographic social context moderates relationships between team diversity and team performance. We discuss the practical implications of these results as well as the research implications for future studies of team diversity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management