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Developing diverse teams to improve performance in the organizational setting

Katherine L. Yeager (Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Fredrick M. Nafukho (Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, College of Education and Human Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 8 June 2012

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Abstract

Purpose

The use of teams in organizations given the current trend toward globalization, population changes, and an aging workforce, especially in high‐income countries, makes the issue of diverse team building critical. The purpose of this paper is to explore the issue of team diversity and team performance through the examination of theory and empirical research. Specifically, the paper seeks to answer the question: “How might individuals with diverse characteristics such as culture, age, work experience, educational background, aptitude and values, become successful team members?”.

Design/methodology/approach

A review of theories that are pertinent to individual differences and team formation, including social identity theory, mental models, inter contact theory, social comparison theory, and chaos theory, was conducted. Team formation and diversity literature were reviewed to identify ways of developing diverse and effective teams.

Findings

It is a truism that working together in teams is a smart way of achieving organizational performance goals. This paper discusses the theories, research and practices that underlie the development of efficient and effective teams. It demonstrates that recognizing the underlying individual differences, mental models, and assumptions that team members bring to the organization can help build teams that are able to overcome dysfunctional barriers and ensure performance improvement of the individuals, teams and organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The approach used to review the literature is a limitation of this study as the authors may have missed a discussion surrounding an important concept or theory related to team diversity and performance.

Practical implications

Human resource development interventions that target team building, team work and team learning include modules that raise awareness of the perspectives of team members' individual differences and appropriateness of actions. Training at the team level should focus on the interaction between factors that shape the identity of individuals. Procedures and work design systems should be redesigned to insure that the development of strong and functional teams is supported from a holistic and organizational perspective.

Originality/value

This paper highlights diversity issues related to individual differences that underlie team formation and suggests strategies needed to develop effective teams.

Keywords

Citation

Yeager, K.L. and Nafukho, F.M. (2012), "Developing diverse teams to improve performance in the organizational setting", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 388-408. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090591211220320

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited