Do Workgroup Faultlines Help or Hurt? A Moderated Model of Faultlines, Team Identification, and Group Performance

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In this study we examine a moderated model of group faultlines, team identification, and group performance outcomes. We extend research on faultlines by showing how different faultline bases (social category and information-based faultlines) may have differential effects on the performance of groups. In addition to faultline strength (the extent of demographic alignment across members within a group), we examine the distance between faultline-based subgroups (e.g., two members of age 20 are closer in age to two members of an opposing subgroup of age 25 than of two members of age 50). We test our model using an archival field methodology and multiple-source data (qualitative and quantitative) from 76 workgroups in a Fortune 500 information-processing company. Our results revealed that groups with social category faultlines had low team discretionary awards. Faultline distance further exacerbated the negative effects of strength in groups with social category faultlines and produced similarly negative effects in groups with information-based faultlines. Team identification served as a moderator enhancing performance of groups with information-based faultlines.

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