Diversity and creativity in cross-national teams
Due to globalization, organizations are increasingly operating in multicultural and multinational contexts. In 21st century, the metaphor of a ‘flat world’ comprehensively represents the contemporary business world. Business organizations, often, invest in enhancing innovation and team creativity to achieve competitive advantages and succeed in the global market. Therefore, firms recruit people with specialized expertise and creative potentials, beyond national borders, to develop unique and novel products. Hence, the need to examine team diversity and creativity is becoming essential more than ever. Team diversity is a double-edged sword and has been a significant challenge in contemporary organizations. Despite that comprehensive attention has devoted to diversity–creativity relationship, there is still a relative dearth of exploring mechanism between them. The extant research have concluded that demographic (surface level) diversity tends to be more likely to have negative effects and psychological/functional (deep level) diversity mostly positively related to outcomes. Relatively, two questions remained unanswered: how organizations can overcome the negative effect of surface-level diversity and leverage the positive effect of deep-level diversity in terms of team creativity?
We explore the conditions that elevate the positive and dilute the negative effects of team diversity on team creativity. Moreover, we examine the underlying mechanism between team diversity and creativity that explains how team diversity leads to creativity. Team members’ perception of team diversity and team climate has important effect on their behavior and outcomes. The prior research has suggested that an individual feels self-identity and psychological empowerment when s/he perceives inclusion in a diverse group. An inclusion climate makes diverse team members feel less discrimination and facilitates their interpersonal relationship and knowledge sharing. Therefore, team members’ perception of team diversity and climate influence their behavior and outcomes.
The research commentary sheds additional light on diversity–creativity relationship. It is very important to know how different types of team diversities influence team creativity. Our results provided evidence that inclusive climate leverage positive, and retain negative effects of diversity. We have demonstrated that team creativity is very important for organization. Organization could consider different outcomes of different diversity type. They should facilitate the conditions for positive outcome of diversity and compose the team with right mix of diverse members. Organizational managers should pay more attention to the mechanism of diversity–creativity relationship. They should seek to promote knowledge sharing among the diverse team members, such as encourage communication, frequent meetings, and collective work, to leverage team creativity. As our findings suggested that inclusive climate significantly moderates team diversity and knowledge sharing relationship. The managers should cultivate an inclusive climate in cross-national teams by appreciating the members’ differences, providing them equal opportunities, and involving in decision making.
Our study contributes to team diversity and team creativity literature by providing framework to enhance team creativity in cross-national teams. Also, our research add to the inclusion management literature by alluding that inclusive climate at work amplifies the positive effect of team diversity on creativity.
Read the full paper ‘Diversity and creativity in cross-national teams: The role of team knowledge sharing and inclusive climate‘ published in Journal of Management & Organization