Lenses of Diversity in Distributed Teams
T C. Endsley, G. A. Macht, D. Engome Tchupo, C. Hammett, and J. R. S. Brownson
Culture and Multinational Teamwork....................................................................211
Racio-Ethnic Diversity in Teams...........................................................................213
Cognitive Style and Personality........................................................................217
Emotional Intelligence, Personality, and Team Performance...........................217
With the advent of the information technology age, distributed teams are quickly becoming the norm within many human operations across domains, due to the expanse of globalization, international industry, and more operations within compounded, multifaceted environments (e.g., military coalition teams, business and trade, manufacturing, spaceflight, international disaster recovery). In addition, in recent years, there has emerged a greater level of social awareness that identities are not fixed, and are indeed multifaceted (Valverde, Sovet, & Lubart, 2017); that there is a lack of representation of certain populations within research in the teams literature (Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010; Endsley, Reep, McNeese, & Forster, 2015); and that this requires a re-examination of how' and why some teams outperform others.
The establishment of common ground among team members is a fundamental component for the development of shared team cognition across all members of a team in situ. Team cognition is an emergent property that reflects “an emergent state [within a team] that refers to the manner in which knowledge important to team functioning is mentally organized, represented, and distributed within the team and allows team members to anticipate and execute actions (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006)” (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010, p. 33). In distributed teamwork environments, teams may be carrying out activities in which they are geographically, temporally, or virtually displaced, w'hich can impact the ways that communication, collaboration, and coordination are carried out within a team, and which can greatly reduce a team’s ability to develop common ground among team members (Hinds & Mortensen, 2005; Mancuso & McNeese, 2012; Powell, Piccoli, & Ives, 2004; Rosen, Furst, & Blackburn, 2007).
We trace team diversity here as an ensemble of individual differences, expressed collectively through shared spaces of belonging and shared purpose (i.e., joint intentionality among a group of individuals, such as a team). Differences for individual agents within a team can be the starting point for creativity, resilience, sustained performance, and project fulfillment. Greater levels of diversity within teams are often identified as a key mechanism for the avoidance of groupthink; engaging multiple perspectives of individual team members on task-specific issues, through positive conflict behaviors, has been shown to reduce team groupthink and improve team performance (Jehn, 1995; Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006). With groupthink there is a tendency for a group to reach premature consensus on a particular issue, using shared cultural norms, values, and problem-solving heuristics, often to the detriment of robust problem solving, project fulfillment, and/ or sustained team performance (Carnevale & Probst, 1998; Jehn, 1995; Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006).
Diversity of individuals among teams can draw from unique intersectionalities expressed by individual human agents; who may also have diverse inhuman agents (e.g., Al and autonomous/robotic systems) as teammates (as future human machine teaming ambitions have emerged). Intersectionality describes the entangled superposition of factors tracing identity and power differentials of individuals co-created among society and shared communities, such as factors of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, social background, cognitive background, and stories of place (Crenshaw, 1989). Tapping into the collective insight of team diversity has been shown to be a key framework enabling and maintaining creative, resilient, and robust performance (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006).
How collective insight emerges in team settings, and what can be ascertained from these concepts of diversity influencing cognition, sets the stage for new areas of focus within the team cognition literature, particularly as we seek to understand why some teams succeed and others fail. For example, within the teaming literature, overall higher average levels of emotional intelligence (El) on teams have been found to be a large predictor of team performance (Chang, Sy, & Choi, 2012; Cote, 2007; Elfenbein. 2006; Macht, Nembhard, & Leicht, 2019).
Multiple aspects of diversity will be explored within this chapter to answer the question of how diversity impacts the development of distributed team cognition. Answering this question within the context of team performance will provide perspective to this dynamic, evolving viewpoints that have permeated across fields of team literature. Several topics within the diversity literature that influence the success of teams will be discussed in terms of how these concepts impact the ways in which teams carry out their work and develop shared team cognition and shared mental models. Within this chapter, culture, race and ethnicity, cognitive styles, and personalities will be explored in the context of team functions and performance. These purposeful areas were selected as emerging topics that advance and complement the current literature, which is primarily on using individual factors or attributes as structural influences on teams.
CULTURE AND MULTINATIONAL TEAMWORK
Culture, as it shapes and structurally impacts cognition through an individual’s experience through cultural behaviors and practices, provides a rich avenue by which to examine the aspects of cognitive differentiation among populations. Culture is described as shared knowledge, values, and norms that are “transmitted from one generation to the next, which . . . includes the knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society,” (D'Andrade, 1981, p. 179; Donald, 2000; Triandis, 2001). We apply the term culture to trace multiple dynamic experiences of quotidian life through common, intergenerational vernaculars and practices within a social group. Culture, used here, describes a particular set of beliefs, norms, and behaviors of a social group, but may also be applied to the context of organizational, political, or geolocated community (Connaughton & Shuffler, 2007). In many fields, membership to a nation-state is often used to prescribe culture to a social group, although communities often transcend national borders and incorporate ethnic, racial, and religious associations. However, within the literature, cultural studies often treat participant identities solely on descriptions of national membership (Connaughton & Shuffler, 2007; Earley & Mosakowski, 2000). In many ways, this approach can be limited to understanding the rich and dynamical influence of collective cultural experience in shaping cognitive and behavioral patterns of individuals, but has served as a proximal construct for researchers exploring the topic of culture in teams. Our treatment of culture in individuals and teams, however, deserves greater consideration.
Cultural processes of behaviors, norms, expression of dissent, and communication capabilities may present significant contextual boundaries for teams to navigate. Team cognition emerges in context and the ways in which teams create shared knowledge structures, such as a team mental model or a shared understanding, may be constructed based on the perspectives and expectations of the individual team members (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010). The development of shared situation awareness (SA) may be influenced significantly by the cultural context in which the team operates (Endsley, 1995; Strauch, 2010). As discussed by Strauch (2010), “differences in cognitive and perceptual styles can affect team performance by leading to differences in the way operators perceive and comprehend system cues, differences that can affect situation awareness and subsequent decision making.” If cultural norms dictate that subordinate team members do not overtly challenge authority or leadership, they may not share information, which may be pertinent to the task at hand (McHugh, Smith, & Sieck, 2008; Strauch, 2010). For example, Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crashed on a runway at San Francisco International Airport in July of 2013, presents a failure of a team to effectively respond to changes in their descent, which some researchers have attributed to a possible impact of the pilots’ Korean cultural background, where challenges to leadership authority are uncommon (Howard, 2013).
Multinational teams simultaneously provide an urgent area in need of study as well as a rich context for examining and understanding the role culture plays on cognition and team cognitive processes. Cultural differences in processes, values, etc. most often emerge clearly in juxtaposition to other cultures and their processes of doing things. Additionally, multinational team composition requires management of conflict and the negotiation of shared team perspectives by all of the team members. Due to the extensive use of mixed cultural teams to carry out tasks in mission-critical operations (e.g., disaster response, medicine, engineering, business, space flight operations), it is important to understand the processes of multinational teams.
Multinational teams will, by the nature of their composition, have many unique perspectives and as a result, team cohesion may be automatically limited as team members polarize towards the group of their social identity and, importantly, against members that do not share their identity (Shokef & Erez, 2008; Tajfel, 1982). When teams are composed of members with radically different decision-making processes, the potential for subgroup formation based on contentions of what that culture values in the decision-making process increases, and leads to a reduction in team cognition, particularly when conflict is not navigated effectively (Lau & Murnighan, 2005; Carton & Cummings, 2012). A growing body of literature has focused on the issues and benefits that emerge from the use of multinational teams across operational contexts, as they have been increasingly used.
The effect of personal culture on dynamic team process is evidenced firsthand from accounts of coalitions teams across multiple domains. Coalition teams are often used in the battlefield theatre or in crisis situations (Phillips, Ting, & Demurjian, 2002). A coalition is an alliance of international cooperation of “governmental, military, civilian, and international organizations” (Phillips et al., 2002, p. 87). Working in coalitions is a pivotal aspect of U.S. operations and strategy (Phillips et al., 2002), and from reports of coalition teams in theater (i.e., military or NATO teams), anecdotal evidence presents a compelling case for the need to incorporate and include culture as an impacting factor on cognition, and importantly, on team performance (Poteet et al., 2009). Even cultures that may typically be seen as culturally close or similar on some scales of culture (i.e., Hofstede’s dimensions), such as the U.S. and the UK, present dramatic differences in the field for coalition teams seeking to work together (Phillips et al., 2002; Poteet et al., 2009). During operations these teams felt the effects and the “repercussions of substantive differences,” indicating that a deeper look into the role of culture, definitions and overall scope/depth of impact of culture on cognition may need to be re-evaluated as a part of team interactions (Rasmussen, Sieck, & Smart, 2009).
It is often through interactions within multinational teams that unknown information about culturally defined team processes emerges, as cultural style and conflict and must be overcome to achieve team or mission goals. Poteet et al. (2009, p. 4) point out two important findings from their study on British and American military coalition teams: “(1) it is important to look at miscommunication in ‘context’, and (2) it is crucial to have a shared common understanding of the context.” It is doubly important from an examination of these coalition teams to realize the role that a shared understanding of context plays in team performance and the ways in which culture emerges as a potential factor in influencing the development of common ground (Poteet et al., 2009).
In multinational teams, aspects of cultural differences seem to create issues for the development of shared team mental models (Carton & Cummings, 2012), particularly when members align on subgroup fronts, where they are unlikely to engage in appropriate coordination activities, or simply not know that they are missing anything at all. In multinational teams, the nature of team composition can have an enormous effect on group processes and outcomes, in which heterogeneity can affect trust, group commitment, communication, and cohesion (Klein et al., 2019; Polzer, Crisp, Jarvenpaa, & Kim, 2006).
Additionally, team situation awareness may be affected by attention differences among cultural populations, and what is viewed as a priority during team operation processes. If the focus of attention across cultural populations isn’t shared cognitively (i.e., where an individual from a “collectivist culture” views a scenario “holistically” and another from an “individualistic culture” views only specific features), critical information could mistranslate or be missed (Kitayama & Uskul, 2011). It is possible, given this finding that there could be a potential outcome on team situation awareness and on overall team cognition, however, the direct outcomes of these cognitive differences will need to be explored empirically (Strauch, 2010).
RACIO-ETHNIC DIVERSITY IN TEAMS
The “Workforce 2000” report (Johnston & Packer, 1987) forecast that there would be significant increases in the number of women and minority groups entering the workforce by the year 2000. This report generated considerable interest in workforce diversity and its effect on teams and performance, leading to a significant body of research. While some research focused on both gender and racio-ethnic diversity (among other demographics), many have focused on just gender or racio-ethnic diversity. A recent census of the U.S. workforce shows that women make up 40% of the workforce while non-whites make up 22% of the workforce (Litaker & Bell, 2019).
While the literature generally accepts that diversity influences teams (Williams & O’Reilly, 1998), research has yielded inconsistent findings of the effects of racio-ethnic diversity on teams (Baugh & Graen, 1997; Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998). Of the different studies, some results suggest that racio-ethnically homogeneous teams are more cohesive, as heterogeneous teams experience more conflict than homogeneous ones (Tsui, Egan, & O’Reilly, 1992; Milliken & Martins, 1996; Barsade & Gibson, 1998). These conflicts were attributed to the fact that visible differences can lead to reactions due to prejudices (Tsui et al., 1992; Milliken & Martins, 1996).
Rock, Grant, and Grey (2016) argue that while diversity does increase conflict, people tend to exaggerate the amount of conflict existing in diverse teams. They defend this view by pointing to a 2015 study (Lount, Sheldon, Rink, & Phillips, 2015) in which MBA students were told to imagine themselves managing several teams of interns, with one team requesting additional resources. The researchers gave the MBA students the same transcript of a conversation between the team members; the only difference was in the picture provided in the transcript. They were either given an image of four black men, four white men, or two black and two white men. The results of this study showed that the racially homogeneous teams were perceived as having the same level of interpersonal conflict while the heterogeneous teams were perceived as having higher levels of interpersonal conflict, and were subsequently less likely to be allocated the additional resources (Lount et al., 2015). The results indicate more bias and exaggeration in the perception of conflict than in reality.
More recently, as a result of the advances in communication technology and in an effort to mitigate the (perceived) conflicts created from visible differences, research has looked into the effect of communication media on the impact of race (and gender) in teams (Robert, Dennis, & Ahuja, 2018). One of the findings was that the use of text communication helps teams overcome issues associated with their racial diversity. The experiment found that for the teams that used text communication, racial diversity was positively associated with knowledge sharing and integration. This result supports others that claim racio-ethnic diversity may improve the quality of creative brainstorming (McLeod, Lobel, & Cox, 1998; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998). Overall, this provides ample opportunities for productive and effective communication in distributed teams via text, such as online work systems (e.g., Slack, com and Monday.com).
Despite the conflicts that may arise in racially heterogeneous teams, research suggests that one way of avoiding these conflicts and taking advantage of team diversity is to highlight the value of multiculturalism. Although the concept of multiculturalism (which deals with theories of differences) in postcolonial countries had previously been rejected by anti-racist groups in countries like Great Britain (Hall, 1995; Gunew, 1997), a 2009 study which had pairs of students (one white Canadian and one Aboriginal Canadian) team up for a conversation found that prefacing meetings with a message supporting multiculturalism (versus no message) was viewed more positively (by the students) than messages endorsing colorblindness, which led white students to become more negative toward their minority partners (Vorauer, Gagnon, & Sasaki, 2009).
Comprehensive literature reviews of several decades of research on this topic have concluded that while increased diversity at the micro-level (within groups) typically has an adverse effect on the team’s ability to meet its members’ needs and to function effectively over time (Williams & O’Reilly, 1998), there are no consistent main effects of demographic diversity on performance (Mohammed & Angell, 2004; Roberson, 2019). These conclusions suggest that any inconsistencies regarding the results of the impact of racio-ethnic diversity on team performance reflect the fact that there exist variables modifying these effects of racio-ethnic diversity on teams that are not being considered (Milliken & Martins, 1996; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1999).
One agreed-upon variable affecting the performance of diverse racio-ethnic teams is the context in which the team operates, coined in team literature as the environment (Milliken & Martins, 1996; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998; Riordan, 2000; Martins, Milliken, Wiesenfeld, & Salgado, 2003). Specifically, the racio-ethnic diversity of a group affects the group differently depending on if it functions within a similarly racio-ethnically diverse organization or not. Research by Martins et al. (2003) explains that in an environment with little racio-ethnic diversity, racio-ethnic diversity within a group/team has an adverse effect on team members’ experiences as compared to a racio-ethnically diverse team in an equally diverse environment. Furthermore, for a racio-ethnically diverse team within an equally diverse environment, it is deep-level diversity, collectivism in this case, that harms group members’ experiences. Collectivism was not found to have an effect on teams within a homogeneous context. Further results support that numeric minorities within organizations suffer from increased performance pressure, isolation from social and professional networks, and stereotypical role encapsulation (Kanter, 1977; Wharton, 1992). In addition, while members of heterogeneous teams (gender and race) may experience working relationships equal to those of homogeneous teams, they feel they must work harder to create and maintain them (Ely, 1994, 1995). Supervisors, meanwhile, were found to provide higher performance ratings to subordinates of the same race as them (Kraiger & Ford, 1985).
Despite all the work done in this field, more remains. One of the challenges with research on the effects of race and diversity in teams is that much of the research has taken place within disconnected research traditions. Human factors, as it is inherently interdisciplinary, could provide tremendous contributions toward aggregating these different fields in order to better understand diversity in teams. A review of recent literature (Roberson, 2019) identified several aspects of diversity in which research is still lacking. One presented avenue is utilizing temporal or dynamic approaches to account for demographic shifts over time. In addition, more research is needed on investigating the effects of race on interactional behaviors and patterns within work units, understanding the “P” in race Input-Process-Output (I-P-O) models, and studying race and diversity in nonbusiness contexts. The literature is also lacking a focus on the individuals making up the teams. Little is known about the effects of racio-ethnic team diversity on the individual members of the team, as most studies focus on team outcomes. Furthermore, many studies look at performance as an outcome where it would be beneficial to consider other group and individual level outcomes, such as conflict.
Individual diversity in how people think, process, believe, and comprehend information can fall beneath initial observation (Harrison et al., 1998; Mannix & Neale, 2005; Aggarwal, Woolley, Chabris, & Malone, 2019). Empirically and biologically, for example, information formats are processed differently by different people (Richardson, 1977; Cabeza & Nyberg, 2000). The success of comprehending information often depends on the intersection of its presented format and an individual’s mental processing, or cognitive style. Cognitive style, whose origins emerged in the 1940s, defines how quickly and accurately an individual understands conceptual information, how they frame problems, and further, how they behave during decision making (Mello & Delise, 2015).
Understanding a team’s composition of cognitive styles can provide insight into the success of distributed teams. As pointed out by Golian (1998), our thinking style affects how we relate to others, reason, solve problems, and communicate. This provides foresight into forming well-integrated teams. Connecting teams with a diversity of cognitive strengths introduces differences in skills and perspectives, which according to Aggarwal and Woolley (2019) are the raw ingredients to inspire creativity and reveal a high potential for effective team performance (De Dreu & West, 2001; Sung & Choi, 2012; Aggarwal & Woolley, 2019). Cognitive diversity allows for a variety of information processing approaches, leading to differing decisions and behaviors. Incorporating a variety of these qualities into a team can create pathways for creative and structured ideas that may not be explored at an individual cognitive level.
Cognitive style has been studied along multiple constructs for individuals, but in teams it has primarily been conceptualized in terms of verbal, spatial-, and object-visualization construct (Schilpzand, 2010; Aggarwal & Woolley, 2013, 2018; Aggarwal et al., 2019). Based on this approach, object-visualization uses holistic processing, whereas spatial-visualization uses spatial relationships, and verbalization uses strategies of linguistic analysis (Bartlett, 1932; Paivio, 1971; Richardson, 1977; Kozhevnikov, Kosslyn, & Shephard, 2005; Kozhevnikov, Evans, & Kosslyn, 2014; Aggarwal et al., 2019). By creating an information format that resonates with the trio of possible individual cognitive styles, people’s intake of information and its adjoined retrieval can be improved, and subsequent team-based decision making better modeled.
Two opposing viewpoints are explained by the information-processing perspective and the socially shared cognition perspective (Aggarwal et al., 2019). Socially shared cognition argues that diverse teams have a hard time understanding each other, while information processing insists diversity enables new viewpoints of thought (Amabile, 1983; Cox & Blake, 1991; De Dreu & West, 2001; Homan, Buengeler, Eckhoff, Ginkel, & Voelpel, 2015; Van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007; Aggarwal & Woolley, 2019). More research is needed to explore how socially shared cognition and information processing can work together to form balanced, interactive teams in distributed settings and other areas of collaboration, however current research provides evidence to support both propositions.
The most recent research on the diversity of cognitive style in teams shows a negative effect on strategic consensus, an indirect positive effect on team creativity and an area of peak performance with collective intelligence (i.e., the aggregated intelligence of individuals interacting in a team setting) which then declines when the spread of cognitive diversity becomes too large for mutual understanding of intelligence (Aggarwal et al., 2019; Aggarwal & Woolley, 2019). This supports both cognitive perspectives described by Aggarwal et al. (2019) and gives scope to the thought that there is a specific placement of balance to cognitive diversity in team composition to reach high team performance. Uncovering the factors that contribute to the understanding of opposing cognitive styles in teams will ultimately aid in the understanding of cognitive variance and connect the diversity of cognitive styles to high team performance (Mello & Delise, 2015).
Personality traits and an individual’s cognitive style are inextricably linked as they are both integral paradigms through which individuals react to the world, forming a human processing lens (McGhee, Shields, & Birnberg, 1978; Pratt, 1980). While there have been likenesses identified, individuals with the same or similar personalities may intake and process information differently and arrive at different conclusions from their counterparts (McGhee et al., 1978). Research relevant to how personality affects team performance can be discussed in terms of the effects of cognitive style and emotional intelligence (El).
Cognitive Style and Personality
A majority of the work exploring the overlap between personality and cognitive style exists at the individual level (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006; John, Naumann, & Soto, 2008; Duff, Boyle, Dunleavy, & Ferguson, 2004; Gellatly, 1996; Joseph & Newman, 2010). However, there is no clear, distinguishable overlap between the personality or cognitive style constructs with respect to teams.
Sprehn, Macht, Okudan, and Nembhard (2013) assert that if personality and cognitive style relate to one another, it would be between the Five-Factor Model’s (FFM) conscientiousness and three-dimension of cognitive style (i.e., verbal, spatial-, and object-visualizer). Sprehn et al. (2013) explored these complex relationships in the presence of a team setting and indicated a direct link between a team’s mean measure of conscientiousness and team performance. While there was indeed a mediating relationship between those two variables based on the cognitive diversity within the object-visualizer component of the team, it was a negative relationship. This aids to the claim of the socially shared cognition perspective (i.e., a negative effect of cognitive style diversity), and reiterates the need to explore how diverse teams can effectively share information that is perceived differently to create collectively understood team mental models and success. Further expansion of this concept needs to be explored to fully understand the overall effects of how a teams’ personality can influence its collective cognitive style (i.e., cognitive styles of individuals interacting in a team setting) in order to understand the implications of team diversity for high team performance in both distributed and collocated teams.
Emotional Intelligence, Personality, and Team Performance
Within the past several decades, research has attempted to understand the relationship between personality and team performance (Morgeson, Reider, & Campion, 2005; Kozlowski & Bell, 2003; Rothstein & Goffin, 2006) as well as emotional intelligence (El) and team performance (Chang et al., 2012; Leicht, Macht, Riley, & Messner, 2013; Macht et al., 2019), separately. Even with advanced statistical tools, it is difficult to fully predict team performance based on their separate metrics, let alone together (Hough, 2001).
A self-reported trait, El has components of learning (Thompson, 2009) with measurements that significantly overlap with the Five-Factor Model and general intelligence (Joseph & Newman, 2010; O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver, & Story, 2011), which could provide insight into people’s collaborative potential as it affects team performance. El explains how individuals understand and potentially control their emotional response to daily experiences, something that is critical to social interactions (Bar-On, 2006; Bar-On, 1997; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Goleman, 1995). Researchers claim that higher average levels of El in teams allow them to achieve better collective team decisions and still be more adaptable to team behaviors while elevating coordination and effective communication (Chang et al., 2012; Côte, 2007; Elfenbein, 2006; Macht et al., 2019). The team collective El has also been related to team leadership (Chang et al., 2012), leadership emergence (Côte, Lopes, Salovey, & Miners, 2010), and team task orientation and team maintenance (Frye, Bennett, & Caldwell, 2006), but only in the beginning stages of a team project (Jordan, Ashkanasy, Härtel, & Hooper, 2002). Relating team performance to traditional team measures, individual-level, team-level, and environmental-level factors is required not only to understand how El relates to team performance but also to help understand a team’s inherently complex relationships (Driskell, Hogan, & Salas, 1987).
Zeidner (1995) presented seven potential types of relationships that could exist between personality and intelligence constructs; however, researchers have since agreed that a few of these proposed relationships could be too simplistic. Moderation and mediation relationship frameworks have been researched for personality and performance (Rothstein & Goffin, 2006; Peeters, van Tuijl, Rutte, & Reymen, 2006a; Peeters, Rutte, van Tuijl, & Reymen, 2006b; Stewart, 2006; Graziano, Hair, & Finch. 1997; Bond & Ng, 2004; Ployhart & Ehrhart, 2003; Heller & Watson, 2005; Arvey, Rotundo, Johnson, Zhang, & McGue, 2006), and a few works address El and performance in this way (Chang et al., 2012; Rode et al., 2007; Farh, Seo, & Tesluk, 2012). Limited work explores these statistical relationships at the team level for personality and team performance (Macht & Nembhard, 2015; Macht, Nembhard, Kim, & Rothrock, 2014), however, and El and team performance (Macht, 2014).
Macht (2014) demonstrated that personality and El did indeed impact each other in different ways based on the task type, through either moderating effects or mediating effects. Among team studies, there are two broad categories of research that empirically examine either moderating effects (i.e., pathways in which the context and environment overshadow [e.g., personality] the overall effect that independent variables [e.g., El] have on the dependent variable [e.g., team performance]) or mediating effects (i.e., pathways through [e.g., personality] which the independent variable [e.g., El] being studied affects the dependent variable [e.g., team performance]) (Baron & Kenny, 1986; Horwitz, 2005; Rothstein & Goffin, 2006). Personality and El moderated one another during intellectual/analytical tasks (i.e., “generation, exploration, or verification of knowledge” [Driskell et al., 1987, p. 104]) and logical/ precision tasks (i.e., “performance of explicit, routine tasks or task requiring attention to detail” [Driskell et al., 1987, p. 104]), while a mediating relationship was indicated only during the logical/precision task. These results show that there are many nuances to the implementation and interpretation of these complex relationships, significantly hindering understanding for team performance.
Despite the complexity of Macht’s (2014) models, the results reflect an unforeseen relationship between the interactions of personality and El in the prediction of team performance which are dependent not only on the level of interaction but also on the task type. In order to explore the internal complexities between the El and personality metrics, and their relationships to team performance, advanced statistical methods must be incorporated. Knowing their potential relationships and how this affects knowledge sharing, collaboration, and decision making in teams, however, could provide useful predictors of team performance (Furnham, 2008), especially within highly complex tasks and distributed teams. With future research, it could be possible to create a combination of individual El and personality traits that would be indicative of high-performance collaboration in teams.
This chapter explores how nuances in individual identities should not be overlooked and that individual differences among team members should not be discounted when talking about how teams perform in distributed contexts. The influence of diverse perspectives on team performance outcomes implicates a different nuance to team behaviors and interactions that deserves attention and further examination, as the very nature of teamwork is shifting to incorporate composition of highly diverse cultural, racio-ethnic, and cognitive styles and is extending to include multiple kinds of agents with different personalities and collective and emotional intelligences. Knowing how various levels of identity demographics (e.g., culture, racio-ethnicity) and cognitive metrics (e.g., styles, personality, emotional intelligence) do or do not relate to team performance is vital to fully comprehending how to form teams in a more universal, generalizable manner. Approaches from a variety of fields provide unique opportunities for extension into teams research. In more recent years, for example, research focus has shifted from looking at one aspect of diversity (e.g., race, gender) to look at the intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1985) of diverse characteristics within individuals. Intersectionality has been largely unexplored as it relates to team dynamics. Capturing multifaceted and/or multilayered nature of intraindividual identity (Roberson, 2019) as it relates to team performance outcomes is an important next step; intersectionality may provide a new lens through which to understand team processes. Extending diversity research in distributed teams is a critical next step as many areas of diverse team composition, as their interactions as constructs within teams, are not well explored.
Ultimately, teaming requires a collection of individuals (e.g., humans, intelligent agents, robots) to coalesce into a teams’ greater functional capabilities. As Salas, Cooke, and Rosen (2008) suggest, “Teams are used when errors lead to severe consequences; when the task complexity exceeds the capacity of an individual; when the task environment is ill-defined, ambiguous, and stressful; when multiple and quick decisions are needed; and when the lives of others depend on the collective insight of individual members” (p. 540). Understanding how culturally, socially, and cognitively diverse teams can operate successfully (i.e., achieving goals and interacting effectively to do so) is quintessential given the employment of diverse teams in a variety of operational contexts.
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