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Examining workgroup diversity effects: does playing by the (group-retention) rules help or hinder?

Stanley, David J., Allen, Natalie J., Williams, Helen M. and Ross, Sarah J. 2011. Examining workgroup diversity effects: does playing by the (group-retention) rules help or hinder? Behavior Research Methods 43 (2) , pp. 508-521. 10.3758/s13428-010-0053-9

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Group diversity researchers are often faced with the problem of calculating diversity indices for groups that are incomplete due to participant nonresponse. Because participant nonresponse may attenuate the correlations that are observed between group diversity scores and outcome variables, some researchers use group-retention rules based on within-group response rates. With this approach, only those groups that have a within-group response rate at, or higher than, the rate prescribed by the group-retention rule are retained for subsequent analyses. We conducted two sets of experiments using computer simulations to determine the usefulness of group-retention rules. We found that group-retention rules are not a substitute for a high response rate and may decrease the accuracy of observed relations, and consequently, we advise against their use in diversity research. Over the past two decades, researchers and practitioners have shown considerable interest in understanding the impact that workgroup diversity has on group-level process variables (e.g., conflict, communication) and outcome variables (e.g., viability, innovation, performance). Some theoretical perspectives, such as the information-processing/decision-making approach (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992; De Dreu & West, 2001; Gruenfeld, Mannix, Williams, & Neale, 1996), predict that diversity will enhance processes and outcomes, whereas others, in particular the social identity, self-categorization, and similarity attraction perspectives (e.g., Byrne, 1971; Hogg & Abrams, 1988; Tajfel & Turner, 1986), predict that diversity will disrupt processes and impede outcomes. As various reviewers have concluded, the overall pattern of findings examining the effects of diversity is quite mixed (e.g., Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007; King, Hebl, & Beal, 2009; Mannix & Neale, 2005; Riordan, 2001; van Knippenberg, De Dreu, & Homan, 2004; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998). In their review, Mannix and Neale argued that these mixed results will only be clarified “by carefully considering moderators such as context, by broadening our view to include new types of diversity such as emotions and networks, and by focusing more carefully on mediating mechanisms” (p. 32). More recently, King et al. expressed a similar sentiment and emphasized the need, in future diversity research, to examine group processes and outcomes with greater specificity. We agree with these observations, but would add that methodological issues associated with diversity research also need careful scrutiny. Specifically, we contend that clarifying the mixed results within the diversity literature requires attention to how, and from whom, researchers collect the data on which diversity variables are based (e.g., Riordan, 2001), how well researchers’ conceptualizations of diversity match their operationalizations of diversity (e.g., Harrison & Klein, 2007), and how researchers handle the ubiquitous missing-data problem that hampers the accurate assessment of workgroup diversity (e.g., Allen, Stanley, Williams, & Ross, 2007b; Newman & Sin, 2009). The latter issue is the focus of the present research; specifically, we examine the effectiveness of rules that govern the decision to drop or retain groups based on within-group response rates. We do this in the context of diversity research, where diversity is operationalized using the standard deviation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 1554351X 15543528
ISSN: 1554-351X
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2020 13:15

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