University of Oulu

Effects of diversity in global teams

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Author: Himanka, Laura1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, Management
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
Pages: 86
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : L. Himanka, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-06-12
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Haapanen, Lauri
Reviewer: Haapanen, Lauri
Hermes, Jan


In today’s globalizing world where the workforce is increasingly diverse and the themes of equality and anti-discrimination are drawing attention, it is essential for managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs) to understand the effects and functioning mechanisms of diversity. This thesis studies the effects of diversity in the context of global teams. Global teams are globally distributed work groups that often play a strategically important role in MNEs. Thus, maximizing their performance is an essential source of sustainable competitive advantage. The previous literature has indicated inconsistent results on the effects of diversity and lacks research focusing on the context of global teams. To narrow this research gap, this thesis examines the mechanisms of different diversity attributes and their effects on the performance of global teams, as well as the implementation of diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices at the team level.

The topic is examined by means of a qualitative case study of a Finnish-based MNE in which semi-structured interviews are conducted to members of a global product management team. The empirical results of this study indicate that in the special context of global teams characterized by a dispersed location of team members, communication is significantly more task-oriented than in conventional teams. This has a significant effect on the functioning of diversity attributes as communication is a key mediator of the effects of diversity. The results also indicate that the social-categorization and similarity-attraction processes are weaker in global teams than in conventional teams which is found to prevent discriminatory behavior. Based on the results of this study, a new categorization of diversity attributes is presented where the special interactional context of global teams is accounted for. This categorization is based on the attributes’ effects on work-related outcomes as well as their functioning mechanisms in virtual channels of communication.

This thesis makes a contribution to the diversity literature with two significant findings. First, it sheds light on the functioning mechanisms of diversity attributes in the context where virtual communication is the dominating way of communication between team members. Secondly, this thesis advances knowledge on the self-categorization and similarity-attraction processes by revealing that they are significantly weaker in in global teams than conventional teams. The primary purpose of this thesis is to provide insight into how to maximize the positive and minimize the negative effects of diversity in the special context of global teams in order to improve team performance.

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Copyright information: © Laura Himanka, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.