This section of the research guide represents research on diversity in organizations from the interdisciplinary field of organizational studies, including the sub-fields of organizational psychology, organizational sociology, business and management.
Studies on organizational diversity often focus on workforce diversity and specifically on diversity in teams. Both the benefits and challenges of diversity are discussed in the research literature; this guide is geared towards emphasizing beneficial outcomes. The positive impact of diversity on outcomes is referred to as the "value in diversity" hypothesis. Another common way to discuss positive impacts is by making the "business case" for diversity.
This section contains recommended databases and search strategies. Links to searches and RSS feeds from databases are included to show recently published articles.
Relevant PsycINFO subject classification terms include:
The Sociological Thesaurus subject classification term for diversity is "Cultural Pluralism." This search pairs the subject "Cultural Pluralism" with the keyword "Diversity" (not in the full text) along with a set of subject terms focused on organizations, workplaces, and teams.
(MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Cultural Pluralism") OR NOFT("Diversity")) AND (MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Workplaces") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Work Groups") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Sociology of Work") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Enterprises") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Corporations") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Teams") OR MAINSUBJECT.EXACT("Groups") OR MAINSUBJECT("Organization*"))
This search searches for keywords (TS=) on diversity in organizations, workplaces, and teams; along with a set of terms to focus on literature geared towards discussion of positive outcomes. Literature from the hard sciences is excluded in order to reflect recent research from social sciences publications.
TS=(diversity) AND TS=(organizations OR workplace OR workforce OR teams OR "work group" OR "group process*" OR "group composition") AND TS=(creativity OR "problem solving" OR "decision making" OR performance OR "competitive advantage" OR competitiveness OR profit OR productivity OR innovation OR effectiveness OR "business case" OR "value in diversity" OR "value of diversity" OR "social justice" OR inclusion OR "bias reduction") NOT SU=("Life Sciences Biomedicine" OR "Physical Sciences" OR Technology)
Indexes=SSCI Timespan=All years
Woolley, Anita Williams, Christopher F. Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone. "Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups." Science 330, no. 6004 (2010): 686-688.
As measured by their ability to complete tasks, the collective intelligence of teams improves when women are included.
Scott, Kristyn A., Joanna M. Heathcote, and Jamie A. Gruman. 2011. “The Diverse Organization: Finding Gold at the End of the Rainbow.” Human Resource Management 50 (6): 735–55. https://doi.org/10.1002/hrm.20459.
Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes: Gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender & society, 20(4), 441-464.
Carnes, M., Devine, P. G., Manwell, L. B., Byars-Winston, A., Fine, E., Ford, C. E., ... & Palta, M. (2015). Effect of an intervention to break the gender bias habit for faculty at one institution: a cluster randomized, controlled trial. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 90(2), 221.
Creary, S. J., Caza, B. B., & Roberts, L. M. (2015). Out of the box? How managing a subordinate’s multiple identities affects the quality of a manager-subordinate relationship. Academy of Management Review, 40(4), 538-562.
Hall, E. V., Avery, D. R., McKay, P. F., Blot, J. F., & Edwards, M. (2019). Composition and compensation: The moderating effect of individual and team performance on the relationship between Black team member representation and salary. Journal of Applied Psychology, 104(3), 448-463.
Fuhrmann, C. N., Halme, D. G., O’Sullivan, P. S., & Lindstaedt, B. (2011). Improving graduate education to support a branching career pipeline: recommendations based on a survey of doctoral students in the basic biomedical sciences. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 10(3), 239-249.
Jin, M., Lee, J., & Lee, M. (2017). Does leadership matter in diversity management? Assessing the relative impact of diversity policy and inclusive leadership in the public sector. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 38(2), 303-319.
Kezar, A. (2007). Tools for a time and place: Phased leadership strategies to institutionalize a diversity agenda. The Review of Higher Education, 30(4), 413–439.
Lindsey, A. P. , Avery, D. , Dawson, J. F. , & King, E. B. (2017). Investigating why and for whom management ethnic representativeness influences interpersonal mistreatment in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102 (11), 1545-1563.
Pittman, C. T. (2012). Racial microaggressions: The narratives of African American faculty at a predominantly White university. The Journal of Negro Education, 81(1), 82-92.
Rivera, L. A. (2012). Hiring as cultural matching: The case of elite professional service firms. American sociological review, 77(6), 999-1022.
Smith, D. G. (1995). Organizational implications of diversity in higher education. Diversity in organizations, 220-244.
Cox, Taylor H., Sharon A. Lobel, and Poppy L. McLeod. 1991. “Effects of Ethnic Group Cultural Differences on Cooperative and Competitive Behavior on a Group Task.” Academy of Management Journal 34 (4): 827–47. https://doi.org/10.2307/256391.
Hoffman, L. R., and N. R. F. Maier. 1961. “Quality and Acceptance of Problem Solutions by Members of Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Groups.” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 62 (2): 401–7. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0044025.
Hoffman, L. Richard. 1959. “Homogeneity of Member Personality and Its Effect on Group Problem-Solving.” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 58 (1): 27–32. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0043499.
Cox, Taylor H., and Stacy Blake. 1991. “Managing Cultural Diversity: Implications for Organizational Competitiveness.” The Executive; Ada 5 (3): 45. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/ame.1991.4274465.
Herring, Cedric. 2009. “Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity.” American Sociological Review 74 (2): 208–24. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/000312240907400203.
Knippenberg, Daan van, and Michaéla C. Schippers. 2006. “Work Group Diversity.” Annual Review of Psychology 58 (1): 515–41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085546.
"Work group diversity, the degree to which there are differences between group members, may affect group process and performance positively as well as negatively. Much is still unclear about the effects of diversity, however. We review the 1997–2005 literature on work group diversity to assess the state of the art and to identify key issues for future research. This review points to the need for more complex conceptualizations of diversity, as well as to the need for more empirical attention to the processes that are assumed to underlie the effects of diversity on group process and performance and to the contingency factors of these processes."
"...evidence also links diversity to higher social integration and group identification (identification reflects self-categorization), and lower relational conflict..."
"...At the core of the information/decision-making perspectives lies the notion that work group diversity may be associated with differences in information, knowledge, and perspectives, and that this diversity may benefit group performance..."
Mannix, Elizabeth, and Margaret A. Neale. 2005. “What Differences Make a Difference? The Promise and Reality of Diverse Teams in Organizations.” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 6 (2): 31–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-1006.2005.00022.x.
"As the workplace has become increasingly diverse, there has been a tension between the promise and the reality of diversity in team process and performance. The optimistic view holds that diversity will lead to an increase in the variety of perspectives and approaches brought to a problem and to opportunities for knowledge sharing, and hence lead to greater creativity and quality of team performance. However, the preponderance of the evidence favors a more pessimistic view: that diversity creates social divisions, which in turn create negative performance outcomes for the group. ...
We are cautious to note, however, that this does not at all imply that integration and diversity for reasons of equal access and opportunity are not appropriate, desirable, and necessary. In addition, we know that equal access and opportunity are still a long distance off and that the glass ceiling is still alive and well (Catalyst, 2005; Meyerson & Fletcher, 2000). We applaud diversity initiatives that reduce discrimination and increase access to career opportunities. However, we also applaud efforts to understand how the increased diversity of organizations and work teams affects work processes and performance. To implement policies and practices that increase the diversity of the workforce without understanding how diverse individuals can come together to form effective teams is irresponsible. Our aim here is to provide such a roadmap, based on the current state of knowledge about the consequences of diversity, broadly defined."
Willoughby, Katherine, and Charles O’Reilly. 1998. “Demography and Diversity in Organizations: A Review of Forty Years of Research.” In Research in Organizational Behavior: An Annual Series of Analytical Essays and Critical Reviews, edited by Barry M. Staw and L. L. Cummings, 20:77–140. Research in Organizational Behavior. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press Inc.
"It is now accepted wisdom that a major challenge facing managers in the next century will be an increasingly diverse workforce. But what conclusions can be drawn from the research on demography and diversity about meeting this challenge? Is there, as some researchers suggest, a "value in diversity", or, as suggested by others, does diversity make group functioning more difficult? The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the literature on organizational demography and diversity as it applies to work groups and organizations. We review over 80 studies relevant for understanding the effects of demography as it applies to management and organizations. Based on this review, we summarize what the empirical evidence is for the effects of diversity and suggest areas for further research."
Milliken, Frances J., and Luis L. Martins. 1996. “Searching for Common Threads: Understanding the Multiple Effects of Diversity in Organizational Groups.” The Academy of Management Review; 21 (2): 402–33. https://doi.org/10.2307/258667
"In this article, we review and evaluate recent management research on the effects of different types of diversity in group composition at various organizational levels (i.e., boards of directors, top management groups, and organizational task groups) for evidence of common patterns. We argue that diversity in the composition of organizational groups affects outcomes such as turnover and performance through its impact on affective, cognitive, communication, and symbolic processes."
"The results of research on heterogeneity in groups suggests that diversity offers both a great opportunity for organizations as well as an enormous challenge. On the one hand, some research suggests that more diverse groups have the potential to consider a greater range of perspectives and to generate more high-quality solutions than less diverse groups..."