The results of research on diverse team composition suggest that it offers both a great opportunity for organizations as well as an enormous challenge. Numerous studies have suggested that more diverse teams have the potential to consider a greater range of perspectives and to generate more innovative and higher-quality solutions than less diverse teams (Austin, 1997). In contrast, meta-analyses have revealed a negative relationship, inconsistent or no relationship between team heterogeneity and innovation (van Knippenberget al., 2004; Webber and Donahue, 2001).Within the management literature, there have been a series of suggestions regarding these conflicting results. Some research has focused on exploring the mechanisms through which diversity exerts its influence in workgroups. This has included investigation into mediator variables, for example, member commitment, decision comprehensiveness and conflict (Jehnetal., 1999; Riordan and Shore, 1997), as well as the development of theories that aim to unravel the salient compositional patterns and cognitive processes underpinning diversity affects. In contrast to the simple measurement of bio-demographic or job-related attributes, some researchers have proposed diversity affects based on the schism between subgroups, for example, the “fault lines” concept provides an analytical framework in which attribute alignment forms distinct subgroups (Lau and Murnighan, 1998, 2005), while the “factional” concepts suggests that subgroups will emerge on the basis of identification with social entities represented by members (Li and Hambrick, 2005). Other authors have cited moderator variables for example, that the relationship between diversity and performance is moderated by the time that a team has been working together, task characteristics such as routineness and interdependence, debate and team collective identification (Harrisonetal., 2002; Jehnetal., 1999; Pelledetal., 1999; van der Vegt and Bunderson, 2005). In this paper, we develop a model that focuses on the moderating role of leadership in explaining the influence of diverse composition on team knowledge creation. Transformational Leadership
Research in this area suggests that knowledge-based advantages for functionally-diverse groups are based on cognitive effects stemming from the connection of previously unconnected knowledge, and lead to the proposition that cognitive heterogeneity, defined as the extent to which the team reflects differences in knowledge, including beliefs, preferences and perspectives, mediates the relationship between profession al diversity and team effectiveness.
The following discussion provides justification for the role of cognitive heterogeneity as a mediator of the relationship between functional diversity and knowledge creation, and for the moderating role of transformational leadership.
Cognitive structures are the internal representations of ourselves, others and our environments, which are based on previous knowledge, experience and learning and are used to explain how individuals create their own realities as they make sense of and interact with their world.
Research in upper echelons studies , health administration , diversity , communities-of-practice and innovation and corporate entrepreneurship , provides empirical support, based on the interaction of individuals across functional boundaries, for associated differences in perspective and tacit knowledge from within one functional area compared with another.
If diversity operates as a proxy for underlying cognition, the next step is to investigate the relationship between cognitive heterogeneity and knowledge creation and the possibility of a mediated relationship between diversity and knowledge creation through cognitive heterogeneity.
The following discussion provides justification for the role of affective conflict as a mediator of the relationship between functional diversity and knowledge creation, and for the moderating role of transformational leadership.
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