Avoiding demographic cliques build stronger team

Jan 09, 2014

Cliques make team players less altruistic. That is the finding from a study of teams in business and not-for-profit organizations published this month in the European Journal of International Management. The study has implications for management of teams when measures of diversity including gender, ethnic origin and other demographic factors are considered.

Pinar Acar of the Department of Business Administration, at Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, explains how multinational collaborations, greater awareness of gender issues and other factors have given rise to increasingly diverse teams within organizations. It is therefore important to understand how demographic differences between in those organizations might affect team building, empathy and altruism between members. And, from the shareholder or stakeholder perspective, how the formation of cliques might undermine efficiency and efficacy.

Acar surveyed 221 individuals from 13 diverse teams from 28 countries and looked at how the efficacy of the teams is affected by the formation of demographic sub-groups by individuals within the teams. The main obstacle to efficacy that emerges is that if individuals form sub-groups, or cliques, within a team based on seeking out those from a similar demographic background then they are less likely to be altruistic towards the team. Whereas those individuals who identified most strongly with the team were likely to use their discretion to help the team as a whole. Fundamentally, it seems it is not individuals seeing themselves as different from the stereotypical team member but simply their identifying with other members who are similar that gives rise to this behaviour.

"Team effectiveness, in part, is based on individual members' display of cooperative, helpful behaviours extending beyond formal job requirements," explains Acar. If this effectiveness is being undermined within any organization then interventions at the management level that preclude the formation of cliques while at the same time encouraging diversity and awareness of diversity issues should lead to stronger teams.

"Leaders of diverse teams should be aware that affective identification with the team is a significant trigger of benevolent behaviours on the part of individual members," says Acar. "Thus, leaders of diverse groups should engage in behaviours that would increase members' affective identification with the group," she concludes.

Explore further: Hospital rapid response teams need training

More information: F. Pinar Acar. "Social identification and altruism in diverse teams" in European J. International Management, 2014, 8, 55-72. DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2014.058484

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hospital rapid response teams need training

May 11, 2013

(HealthDay)—While hospital rapid response teams are effective in managing patients at risk or in crisis, team members need teamwork and good communication, according to a study published in the May issue ...

Why gender diversity in research matters

Nov 21, 2013

Despite making huge strides, women scientists seeking to climb the career ladder still face many barriers. Raising awareness of these issues within the scientific community is part of the steps needed to ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.