Culturally heterogeneous workgroups: the effects of leader behaviors and attitudes on conflict and its relationship to task and social outcomes

2017-06-08T03:28:23Z (GMT) by Ayoko, Oluremi B. Hartel, Charmine E. J.
One of the major challenges facing organizations in the 21st century is the management of culturally heterogeneous workgroups (CHWs). Although the diversity literature suggests that diverse workgroups can be more innovative and creative and better problem solvers than homogeneous groups, it also acknowledges that diverse workgroups often suffer from poor cohesion and social integration which negatively affects group processes. One of the main causes of poor cohesion and social integration in the workgroup is task and interpersonal conflict. The effect of conflict depends, in part, on the way it is managed by the parties concerned, in particular by the group leader. The kind of conflict that is generated in CHWs and leader responses to these conflicts lacks thorough documentation in the literature. In this paper, we summarise the development of a model of the role of leader behavior and attitudes in conflict events and processes in CHWs. In particular, we argue that the pre-conflict stage established by the group leader and the attitudes and behaviors of the leader toward conflict events (e.g., conflict management skills, emotion management skills, education, reorganization of work, level of openness to dissimilar others) moderate the relationship between the conflict event and the short- and long-term group's reactions to it. Qualitative data from the first stage in a research program aimed at assessing and refining the model are reported, providing evidence for the prevalence of conflict in culturally heterogeneous workgroups and the intense consequences these conflicts have on performance, well-being, and society.