The Impact of Race on Newcomer Knowledge Utilization

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Crosby, Brandon
Gelfand, Michele
The experiences of newcomers in groups and organizations have been studied for decades in organizational psychology. Touted for their abilities to produce innovation and give outside perspectives, successful newcomers are highly sought-after by many organizations. Unfortunately, newcomers are often met with resistance when attempting to influence more established group members. While this has been studied in organizational psychology, the literature has largely ignored the potential role of race in these interactions. This research sought to fill this void by examining the effects of race on the ability to influence established group members. This research hypothesized that the relationships between race and knowledge utilization would be explained by trust, as White newcomers are expected to be more trusted on an affective and cognitive level. In addition, these studies examined the role of selection as a moderator. Selecting a newcomer may make a newcomer appear more trustworthy and desirable and may balance out the effects of race. In Study 1, the race of the newcomer had no impact on how much they were trusted, nor the participants’ willingness to utilize the information the provided. In Study 2, White newcomers were trusted more and were more likely to get the participants to change their minds. Finally, Study 3 found that participants were more likely to be persuaded by a White newcomer as compared to a Black newcomer. However, when the group selected a Black newcomer, they were just as likely as the White newcomer to influence the established group members. These findings show that the act of choosing a newcomer may ameliorate ingroup or racial biases against minority newcomers.