7 UNDERSTANDING THE IN DECISION-MAKING TEAMS Susan E . PDF

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Source: R. A. Guzzo, E. Salas, and Associates.Team Effectiveness and Decision Making in Organizations.San Fancisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995.7UNDERSTANDING THEDYNAMICS OF DIVERSITYIN DECISION-MAKING TEAMSSusan E. Jackson, Karen E. May,Kristina WhitneyChanging work-force demographics and new organizationalforms are increasing the diversity of work teams in general anddecision-making teams in particular. Given these environmental changes, work teams that are diverse in terms of sex, race,ethnicity, national origin, area of expertise, organizational affiliation, and many other personal characteristics are increasinglycommon.Diversity may lead to a variety of different consequencesfor decision-making teams. Consider, as a hypothetical example,an academic selection committee searching for a departmentchair. The members' diverse perspectives would undoubtedlyinfluence the decision process. If managed well, their discussionsmight eventually result in the hiring of a Nobel laureate. If badlymismanaged, others at higher levels might usurp the selectioncommittee's choice of a new leader.The purpose of this chapter is to present a framework forunderstanding the dynamics of diversity in work teams. We firstdescribe the types of diversity that characterize today's workteams. Next, we present a general framework for analyzing how204

Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity205diversity influences work teams, their individual members, andtheir employing organizations. This framework identifies thebasic dimensions of diversity, delineates several possible consequences, and describes the processes that shape the consequences of diversity. We use this framework to guide our subsequent discussion of the dynamics of diversity in work teamsin general and in decision-making situations in particular. Finally, we conclude with a brief discussion of some of the implications of our analysis, for both research and practice.The Nature of Diversity in Decision-Making TeamsThe Changing Work ForceThe changing demographics of the U. S. labor force account fori ncreasing gender diversity, cultural diversity (including culturaldifferences due to race and ethnicity), and age diversity.Gender Diversity. Women are entering the labor force ingrowing numbers. By the year 2000, the work force is expectedto be almost completely gender-balanced. When this balancepoint is reached, the work force as a whole will be maximallydiverse with respect to this attribute. Furthermore, gender-basedsegregation in the workplace is declining. Although they are stillseldom seen in corporate board rooms, women currently represent more than 35 percent of the administrative and managerialworkforce (Selbert, 1987). Consequently, all but the highestlevel decision-making teams in organizations are likely to becharacterized by substantial gender diversity.Domestic Cultural Diversity. As the 1980s drew to a close,the U.S. Department of Labor was projecting rapid increasesin the cultural diversity of the labor supply (Johnston & Packer,1987). Only 58 percent of new entrants into the labor force wereexpected to come from the "majority" population of white nativeborn Americans. The remaining 42 percent were expected to bemostly immigrants (22 percent), followed by approximately equalnumbers of African Americans and Hispanic Americans. These

206Team Effectiveness and Decision Makingnational trends are striking, yet they understate the truly dramaticregional changes occurring in Hawaii, California, Texas, NewYork, and Florida, where the growth in the Asian American, Hispanic American, and immigrant populations is especially rapid.In California, for example, racial diversity is fast approachingthe point at which no single group will represent a majority.National immigration figures understate the extent of cultural diversity in other ways as well. The immigrant populationitself has become more diverse as Asians and Latinos from manycountries join the once-predominant European immigrants.There are growing numbers of second- and third-generation U.S.citizens who continue to have strong ties to another national culture (see Fugita & O'Brien, 1991; Mydans, 1991). And, althoughthe proportion of African Americans has remained relatively stable, their employment patterns have shifted considerably, resulting in higher degrees of racial integration in clerical, technical,and skilled crafts jobs ("Race in the Workplace," 1991).Age Diversity. Descriptions of work-force demographicsusually emphasize the fact that the average age of the work forceis increasing but give little attention to indications that the distribution of ages (variance) represented in the work force is alsochanging. Yet, given several other trends, employees of greatlydifferent ages are more and more likely to find themselves working side by side. The shrinking rate of growth in the labor poolis pushing employers to hire at both extremes of the age distribution, with the result that both student interns and former"retirees" are being hired to fill vacant positions (Bolick & Nestleroth, 1988). Furthermore, as middle-aged women enter orreenter the work force, they often find themselves working inentry-level jobs traditionally filled by younger employees. Finally, as organizations allow the higher education of youngeremployees to substitute for the job experience that previous cohorts of employees had to accrue in order to be promoted, relatively young employees are found more often in higher-level jobs.Consequently, within each level of the organizational hierarchy, age diversity is replacing the homogeneity associated withtraditional age-based stratification.

Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity207New Organizational FormsTeams are becoming more diverse, not only because of changing work-force demographics but also because of the developmentof new organizational forms. The globalization of the businesseconomy and the formation of interdepartmental and interorganizational alliances are two forces shaping these new organizational forms.Global Operations. The globalization of the business economy has received much recent attention in the United States.As trade barriers are removed and competition intensifies, manyU.S. companies are beginning to expand their operations inorder to take advantage of foreign labor and consumer markets. For smaller companies, foreign activities may be limitedto a single joint venture or to offshore production or distribution systems that involve one or two other countries. For largercorporations, foreign offices may be in over one hundred different countries (see Fulkerson & Schuler, 1992). The presenceof international affiliations, although not inevitable, is likely tolead eventually to the formation of teams of people with diversecultural backgrounds, including management teams, designteams, operation teams, and marketing teams (Adler & Ghadar, 1991; Kanter, 1991; Von Glinow & Mohrman, 1990), allof which engage in decision-making activity.Interdepartmental and Interorganizational Alliances. inorder to succeed in an increasingly competitive domestic andglobal environment, many organizations are utilizing teams topursue new business strategies that emphasize quality, innovation, and speed. Such work teams often bring together employeesfrom previously segregated areas of the company, creating occupational and knowledge-based diversity. For example, R&Dteams bring together experts from a variety of knowledge backgrounds with the expectation that, in combination, they willproduce more creative thinking and innovation.In addition, teams may be used to bring together employees from two or more organizations. For example, in order

208Team Effectiveness and Decision Makingto improve the quality of their finished products, manufacturersmay include their suppliers as part of a product-design team,and in order to ensure that the finished product appeals to theircustomers, they may include the end users on the team. Suchalliances require subunits from different organizations to coordinate their activities. In doing so, they produce teams that mustdevelop modes of operating that fit with the differing corporatecultures in which the subunits are embedded (Hofstede, 1991;Kanter, 1989).Corporate (and subunit) cultures shape expectations forbehavior and guide interactions among interdependent employees. During a typical day, they are an unnoticed medium forcarrying out activities. But when corporate norms, habits, androutines are not shared by all the members of an interdependent team, they become more salient, creating both opportunities for innovation and threats to effective team functioning.In today's business environment, work teams are becoming both more common and more diverse, intensifying the importance of understanding the dynamics of work-team diversity. Of particular importance to this chapter is diversity withindecision-making teams. Organizations are rapidly restructuring to take advantage of the potential benefits of diverse decisionmaking teams, making the assumption that the liabilities of suchteams are worth the risk (or can be successfully avoided). Manyof the specific assets and liabilities of work teams arise directlyout of diversity. To be effective, diverse decision-making teamsmust carefully manage their assets and liabilities. Doing so presumes a thorough understanding of how and why diversity affectsthe behavior of teams and their members.Framework for Analyzing the Dynamics of DiversityGiven the complex nature of diversity and its consequences, itis useful to rely on a heuristic as a guide to discussion. Our discussion in this chapter is guided by the heuristic of a theoretical framework that identifies primary constructs and connectsthem to form a meaningful territorial map. Within this framework, diversity is placed as a construct that appears early in

Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity209the causal chain of phenomena considered. The focus is on theconsequence of diversity, rather than on its determinants or itsrole as a contextual or moderating variable (see Levine 8s Moreland, 1990).General Causal ModelIn keeping with an open-systems perspective, we assume thatthe constructs in the taxonomy are nodes in a complex, multilevel, dynamic nomological net. Numerous reciprocal and complex interrelations exist among the primary constructs. Thegeneral pattern of these interrelationships and the presumedcausal linkages are illustrated graphically in Figure 7.1. Thegeneral causal model acknowledges the importance of macroFigure 7.1. General Causal Model forUnderstanding the Dynamics of Diversity in Work Teams.Societal ContextOrganizational Context" Indiv dt J 4th3Interpersonal eam Level--------------------------------------------- Content Structure Cognition Status and power Affect"Diversity"-p. Mediators Susan E. Jackson-.-Short-Term-.-o. Long-TermBehaviorsConsequences Task Task Relations Relations

210Team Effectiveness and Decision Makinglevel phenomena that characterize the embedding societal andorganizational contexts. Although a full discussion of these isbeyond the scope of this chapter, the importance of societal- andorganizational-level phenomena should not be ignored (for moredetailed discussions, see Cox, 1993; Ibarra, 1993; Nkomo,1992).Taxonomy of General ConstructsThe taxonomic component of our framework, shown in Table7.1, organizes constructs into four general categories that correspond to their presumed roles in the general causal model:aspects of diversity, mediating states and processes, short-termbehavioral manifestations, and longer-term consequences. Withineach general category, constructs are arrayed vertically, to reflectthree levels of analysis: individual, interpersonal, and team. Theconstructs most directly associated with a team's acknowledgedobjectives are labeled task-related; those that form the context ofmore general social relationships are labeled relations-oriented. Thecontrast between these two terms is similar to the more familiarcontrast between the terms instrumental and socioemotional. Wechose not to use the latter pair of terms because they imply thatsocial relationships have no instrumental value. Contrary to thisimplication, we assume that social relationships have significantinstrumental value for the immediate task at hand, as well asfor future activities and objectives. In order to make the taxonomy applicable to many types of tasks and work teams, andto encourage researchers to apply the framework to a broadrange of phenomena, the constructs listed in the taxonomy areintentionally general. Throughout this chapter, however, we apply our general framework to the specific task of team decisionmaking.Societal ContextThe societal context is relevant to an understanding of the dynamics that characterize relations between members of different demographic groups. It is in the context of the larger society

Understanding the Dynamics of Diversity211that individuals are socialized to exhibit behaviors "appropriate" to their membership in demographic groups, and it is inthis context that individuals first learn to respond differentiallyto members of different demographic groups (see Maccoby &Jacklin, 1974; Jacklin, 1989). In addition, events in societyincluding new legislation, local politics, and nationally organizeddemonstrations -can stimulate changes in intergroup relationsin the workplace (see Alderfer, 1992; Sessa, 1992).Organizational ContextsOrganizational contexts also influence relations among members of work teams. For example, some organizations intentionally or unintentionally socialize members in different subunitsto compete with employees from other units (other functionalareas, business units, or geographical locations). Others emphasize cooperation and weak interunit boundaries (Tichy &Sherman, 1993). Human resource management practices, suchas selection systems, training programs, and methods of appraisal, also can shape team composition and team dynamics(see Sundstrom, DeMeuse, & Futrell, 1990). For example,"managing diversity" and cross-cultural training interventionsare often designed to sensitize employees to the norms and behavior patterns of various cultures, in the hope of improvinginteractions among employees. Affirmative action programs areoften designed to reduce segregation within organizations.The Team-Organization InterfaceOrganizations impinge on work teams, and they also absorbthe effects of work teams. Of particular relevance here is theextent to which organizations are affected by the longer-termindividual, interpersonal, and team consequences identified inTable 7.1.The literature on organizational behavior suggests severalmeans by which organizations can be affected by the longerterm consequences of work-team diversity. For example, in hisdescription of the consequences of organizational demography,

Table 7.1. Taxonomy of General

The Changing Work Force The changing demographics of the U. S. labor force account for i ncreasing gender diversity, cultural diversity (including cultural differences due to race and ethnicity), and age diversity. Gender Diversity. Women are entering the labor force in growing numbers. By the year 2000, the work force is expected