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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What Makes a Difference? An Exploratory Study of Small Group Interactions
by Hebabi, Lise, Ph.D., Fielding Graduate University, 2016, 194; 10076120
Abstract (Summary)

The workforce in today’s organizations is increasingly diverse, including racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, age, sexual orientation, personality, motivation, values, and a multitude of other differences. These differences are often a source of friction and conflict in work groups, whether or not the conflict is openly expressed. Yet they can also add significant value to groups by providing a richer work experience and a broader pool of knowledge from which to solve problems and make decisions. The literature on this topic crosses multiple disciplinary boundaries, and includes social psychology, conflict studies, linguistics, political science, and management. Research on the performance of diverse work groups has been inconclusive, and has left us with limited understanding of the way in which difference plays out in groups, how group members make meaning of their differences, and how these differences shape and are shaped by group interactions. The research, using a social constructionist frame, analyzed videotapes of actual group interactions using a CMM methodology and compared group interactions to group member perceptions of difference and performance to achieve a deeper understanding of the dynamics of difference and performance in work groups. It found that groups that were relationally generative (i.e., that achieved better results than those of their individual members) had unique patterns that included a description of differences as strengths, better listening, stronger consensus, balanced participation, and inviting and building on each others’ ideas.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gallegos, Placida V.
Commitee: Barge, J. Kevin, Hoyt Boucher, Romagne, McCall, Mary E., Thatchenkery, Tojo
School: Fielding Graduate University
Department: Human and Organization Development
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Communication, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Cmm, Conflict, Difference, Diversity, Social construction, Teams
Publication Number: 10076120
ISBN: 978-1-339-58456-0
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