Diversity and Team Creativity: Exploring Underlying Mechanisms

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Abstract

Past research demonstrates that the relationship between distinct subgroups within teams can be improved using interventions that emphasize commonalities, such as a superordinate team identity. By comparing the creative outcomes of 51 racio-ethnically diverse teams, comprised of both majority and minority racio-ethnic subgroups, this study shows when a common ingroup identity will lead to higher creativity. We hypothesize that there is a combined effect of racio-ethnic identity and superordinate team identity salience on the usefulness as well as the novelty of team’s ideas. Accordingly, we found that superordinate team identity salience had a positive effect on novelty, but only when differences between subgroups were also made salient. There was no joint influence on the usefulness of ideas. Furthermore, our results showed that the relationship between the simultaneous salience of the superordinate team and racio-ethnic identities on the novelty of ideas generated was mediated by team member’s perception of the team as unified and inclusive. Collectively, racio-ethnic subgroup and superordinate identity salience foster a feeling of a common “we,” which in turn support the generation of novel ideas. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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