CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN PROJECT TEAMS: UNPACKING HOW AND WHEN CULTURAL DIVERSITY AFFECTS COLLECTIVE PERFORMANCE
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Drawing on impression formation theory (Fiske & Neuberg, 1990), social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and similarity attraction theory (Byrne, 1971, 1997), one can argue that cultural diversity in project teams creates difficulty for free flow of information among team members, which in turn hurts team performance. Yet, it can also be argued that people with different cultural background can provide unique perspectives to an issue, which will benefit teams. In fact, empirical research has found mixed results of cultural diversity on team performance. In this dissertation, I develop a model to reconcile the conflicting results of cultural diversity on team performance. Specifically, I argue that work-related information elaboration is one of the underlying mechanisms that translates the effect of cultural diversity to performance, depending on member information processing motivation and cultural intelligence. Participants were randomly assigned to three types of teams: all American (N = 32 teams), all Chinese (N = 34 teams), and mixed (N = 38 teams), in which members in each team finished an experimental task (i.e., a business case study). Mediation and moderated mediation analyses were run. Leading results indicate that information sharing uniqueness translated the effect of cultural diversity to team performance, whereas information sharing openness did not mediate the relationship between cultural diversity and team performance after controlling for the mediating effect of information sharing uniqueness. Consistent with one of the major claims in this dissertation, the data show that in culturally diverse teams, high levels of cultural diversity amplified the positive relationship between cultural diversity and information sharing uniqueness, which led to higher team performance. However, social motivation did not change the strength of the relationship between cultural diversity and information elaboration processes. Theoretical and practical implications are provided in the discussion.