The Role of Diversity by Anne Nederveen Pieterse

On March 19, <link people anne-nederveen-pieterse _blank>Anne Nederveen Pieterse has defended her PhD thesis entitled <link erim events _blank>“Goal Orientation in Teams: The Role of Diversity”. This dissertation highlights means to heighten team performance through selection or interventions in existing teams.

For selection the findings underline the importance of taking future team members into account when evaluating the profile of a job applicant and that it is not always beneficial for team performance to recruit candidates similar to the other team members. These findings are important as for teams not only the individual’s functioning is important, but also the functioning of the team.

In addition the findings underline that affirmative action and other diversity enhancing programs may have great value on top of serving purposes of social fairness. Not pursuing ethnic diversity may bereave organizations of an important competitive advantage.

Next, this thesis provides answers to why some teams in organizations perform poorly. For enhancing the outcomes of ethnically diverse teams it may be valuable to encourage a focus on learning and diminish a focus on avoiding poor performance. For self-managing teams it may prove valuable to create greater similarity in team members' focus on learning or performance, for example by helping the team create a common state goal orientation through reflecting on its goals and strategies or emphasising the importance of personal and team development.

Her promoter is <link people daan-van-knippenberg _blank>Prof. dr. D.L. van Knippenberg, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Dr. van Dierendonck, Dr. I. Bogenrieder and Prof. dr. J.R. Hollenbeck.

About Anne Nederveen Pieterse:
Anne Nederveen Pieterse was born on September 17, 1978 in Amsterdam. After receiving her secondary education diploma in 1996, she started the study of Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. In 2001 she graduated in Work and Organizational Psychology. After spending some time travelling, she worked for about two years in Human Resource Management. In 2004 she started a PhD project at the Rotterdam School of Management at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Part of the data collection was conducted at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA, during a four month visit. The research reported in this dissertation was collected from 2004 to 2008.

Anne Nederveen Pieterse is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Human Resource Management & Organizational Behavior Department of the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen.

Organizations make increasingly use of teams as their basic structure, making it more and more important to determine what enables optimal team functioning. Over the past decades, the goals people focus on in achievement settings (i.e. goal orientation) is shown to be highly important for individual behavior. Nevertheless, little is known on how this plays out in a team context. The present dissertation focuses on uncovering the role of team composition in goal orientation on team functioning, with special emphasis on the role of diversity.

In a series of experimental and field studies, we examine several important areas in need of clarification leading to several key insights. First, team members’ goal orientation may help or hurt teams dealing with ethnic diversity. Second, effects of mean levels of goal orientation on team performance may be dependent on other factors (moderators). Third, diversity in goal orientation is an important overlooked variable in the literature that plays a large role in team performance. Fourth, both group information elaboration and group efficiency are relevant underlying processes of this relationship. Fifth, team reflexivity may counteract the negative effects of diversity in goal orientation. Finally, a coordinating team leader may bring about the positive potential of diversity in goal orientation.

More Information:
Pictures of the Defense
Full Text of the Dissertation