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How can we explain mixed effects of diversity on team performance? A review with emphasis on context

Hartmut Haas (Towers Watson, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 25 June 2010




The purpose of this paper is to address the still unresolved issue of explaining the mixed diversity effects on team performance found in empirical research. A special focus is on context factors that have remained systematically unexplored with regard to their potential moderating role.


This review thoroughly analyses 30 empirical studies on direct diversity‐performance effects. Information on team context is collected and compared according to diversity type and its relationship with performance. As meta‐analyses and narrative reviews provide contradicting evidence, empirical studies are evaluated in terms of regression results as well as correlation coefficients.


The comparison of regression and correlation results finds contradictions concerning the trend towards positive or negative relationships. Context factors with moderating potential are discovered for some of the tested diversity variables. Reported curvilinear relationships seem to be responsible for non‐significant outcomes of linear analyses.

Research limitations/implications

This review is limited as it only includes studies on direct relationships of diversity and performance whereas work on the link of diversity and team processes is not considered. Empirical diversity studies in the future should include more detailed information on context factors, especially descriptive data of the sample population. New research in this field should furthermore test whether non‐linear relationships exist as they might be the cause for non‐significant linear relationships.


This paper provides valuable insights for researchers investigating the impact of diversity on team performance as it highlights the importance of descriptive context information and potential moderating variables.



Haas, H. (2010), "How can we explain mixed effects of diversity on team performance? A review with emphasis on context", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 458-490.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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