Apparently it doesn’t make them happier but more effective. That’s the result of a study I heard about on the radio (NPR) two days ago. Unfortunately I cannot find it on the web and I didn’t pay attention to the name of the researcher while I was listening – but the point they made deserves some consideration:
In their self assessment diverse work groups (in terms of gender, race, cultural background, professional background, political affiliation etc.) tend to claim that they are less effective and efficient than more homogeneous groups. But when their goal achievement was assessed using external measurement, it turns out that they achieved higher goals or found better solutions within the same amount of time. One possible reason being that a more diverse group doesn’t fall into the trap of group-think that easily, and – as social network analysts know – diversity of networks is linked to innovation, as strangers bring in new ideas. Two words of warning though:
1. Often the mixed groups didn’t enjoy their work together as much as the homogenous groups, as there was more conflict.
2. The positive effect of heterogeneity can only be realized if those with “strange” ideas and opinions get the room to speak and don’t shut down because of pressure to follow established norms.
Filed under: Other people's work