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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: August 2015

6 - How Differences Make a Difference

from Meeting Composition



In this chapter, we explore the role of team diversity as an input factor for organizational meeting processes and outcomes. Team diversity refers to aggregated differences among group members that can be either relations oriented (social category diversity; e.g., age, gender, race) or task oriented (functional diversity; e.g., education, functional background, tenure). We posit that these two diversity dimensions may have either positive or negative effects on meeting effectiveness contingent on various contextual conditions. Specifically, we argue that interaction processes taking place in team meetings constitute the mediating link between diversity as an input factor and meeting outcomes. Based on this assumption, we develop a model linking both types of diversity to functional versus dysfunctional interactions in meetings. We use this model to derive a number of propositions regarding the links between diversity as an input factor, interaction processes during meetings as mediating mechanisms, and meeting outcomes. By connecting the dots between team diversity and meeting dynamics, we aim to deepen our understanding of the role of participants' diversity in meetings and inspire future research testing the suggested propositions.

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The Cambridge Handbook of Meeting Science
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