Team diversity and leadership: Tests of model of process and direct effects

Kevin Brian Lowe, Florida International University


A model was tested to examine relationships among leadership behaviors, team diversity, and team process measures with team performance and satisfaction at both the team and leader-member levels of analysis. Relationships between leadership behavior and team demographic and cognitive diversity were hypothesized to have both direct effects on organizational outcomes as well as indirect effects through team processes. Leader member differences were investigated to determine the effects of leader-member diversity leader-member exchange quality, individual effectiveness and satisfaction. Leadership had little direct effect on team performance, but several strong positive indirect effects through team processes. Demographic Diversity had no impact on team processes, directly impacted only one performance measure, and moderated the leadership to team process relationship. Cognitive Diversity had a number of direct and indirect effects on team performance, the net effects uniformly positive, and did not moderate the leadership to team process relationship. In sum, the team model suggests a complex combination of leadership behaviors positively impacting team processes, demographic diversity having little impact on team process or performance, cognitive diversity having a positive net impact impact, and team processes having mixed effects on team outcomes. At the leader-member level, leadership behaviors were a strong predictor of Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) quality. Leader-member demographic and cognitive dissimilarity were each predictors of LMX quality, but failed to moderate the leader behavior to LMX quality relationship. LMX quality was strongly and positively related to self reported effectiveness and satisfaction. The study makes several contributions to the literature. First, it explicitly links leadership and team diversity. Second, demographic and cognitive diversity are conceptualized as distinct and multi-faceted constructs. Third, a methodology for creating an index of categorical demographic and interval cognitive measures is provided so that diversity can be measured in a holistic conjoint fashion. Fourth, the study simultaneously investigates the impact of diversity at the team and leader-member levels of analyses. Fifth, insights into the moderating impact of different forms of team diversity on the leadership to team process relationship are provided. Sixth, this study incorporates a wide range of objective and independent measures to provide a 360$\sp\circ$ assessment of team performance.

Subject Area

Management|Occupational psychology|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Lowe, Kevin Brian, "Team diversity and leadership: Tests of model of process and direct effects" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9813003.