A number of scholars have called our attention to the need to consider the social significance of demographic categories when evaluating the association between a team's composition and its performance. Implicit in the call is the idea that the association between a team's composition and its performance is more predictable when the demographic categories that define the team's composition are more significant. How to define the social significance of a demographic category is unclear. One approach is to define the importance of a demographic category in terms of interpersonal attraction. Important demographic categories generate more positive affect between category members. Alternatively, one could define the social significance of a demographic category in the context of task-related processes and activities. A demographic category is significant if it affects the activities that are more likely to be assigned to a team member (i.e., an individual's work-set). I maintain there is much to gain by adopting a role-based approach to the question. An attraction-based approach is a subset of a role-based approach. Moreover, an empirical analysis of the association between demographic categories and job categories would allow us to uncover how categorical people are in their thinking and therefore how socially significant different demographic categories are at work. When combined with a team's demographic composition and the activities that a team must accomplish, the empirical results would move us one step closer to predicting a team's success rate a priori.
Reagans, R. (2008), "In search of significance: A role-set approach to uncovering the social importance of demographic categories", Phillips, K.W. (Ed.) Diversity and Groups (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 93-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1534-0856(08)11005-2
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