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Teams made up of women and men perform better

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Posted March 20, 2013

Teams comprised of both women and men perform better than both teams predominantly made up of men or teams predominantly made up of women. These were the findings of research carried out by Sander Hoogendoorn of the Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship (ACE).

Hoogendoorn’s research studies the effects of diversity on team performance. He looked not only at gender diversity, but diversity in ethnicity and cognitive skills as well.

Ethnic diversity in teams

A team with moderate ethnic diversity did not appear to affect performance. Ethnic diversity had a positive effect on performance if at the very least a majority of the team has different ethnic backgrounds. An explanation for this positive effect could be that team members with different ethnic backgrounds all make a unique contribution to the team’s knowledge. This means they possibly also learn more from each other.

Fewer dismissals

Team performance initially improves and later diminishes as the diversity in cognitive skills increases. Hoogendoorn concluded that teams exhibiting moderate diversity in cognitive skills perform the best. These teams also experience fewer dismissals. However, Hoogendoorn believes this does necessarily mean that this mechanism explains better team performance.

Optimal team composition

Hoogendoorn conducted a number of field experiments with first-year students. As part of their university of applied science programme International Business, these students started, managed and then dissolved their own company. The results of his research provide valuable insight into the effective composition of teams in organisations.

Source: University of Amsterdam

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