Impacts of cognitive diversity of entrepreneurial team on team performance: a moderated double-mediation model

GE Baoshan1,1

(1.School of Management, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin Province, China 130025)

【Abstract】Nowadays, the competition between organizations and teams becomes fiercer with increasingly environmental change, thereby making diverse teams with various knowledge, information and background being more important and meaningful. Thus, team diversity is becoming a fact of organization life and also gaining growing attention, especially for the entrepreneurial teams. As van Knippenberg and Schippers note, diversity is a characteristic of a social group or team that “reflects the degree to which there are objective or subjective differences between people.” But the effects of team diversity on team effectiveness might be inconsistent. On the one hand, these differences between team members will benefit for the heterogeneity in resource pool and promote the elaboration of valued resources, such as knowledge, information and expertise. On the other hand, the heterogeneity can stimulate team members to distinguish them from others and diminish the possibility of team communication and corporation. Therefore, it is worthy to explore whether diverse teams could have more benefits than homogeneous teams, and in which circumstances diverse teams can show greater competitive advantage. Better understanding of these above questions can provide a useful guidance to manage and take advantage of team diversity. Cognitive diversity, prevailing in teamwork form, profoundly impacts team interaction process and team performance. Generally speaking, cognitive diversity refers to team members’ differences in value, attitudes, knowledge. The core question what we concern about is how cognitive diversity can influence team performance based on “Categorization-Elaboration Model.” By integrating information/decision-making perspective and social categorization perspective, this paper tries to explore the positive pathway of “cognitive diversity–knowledge sharing–team performance” and the negative pathway of “cognitive diversity–emotional support–team performance.” Besides, whether the attitudes towards cognitive diversity (i.e., diversity beliefs) would influence the strengths of these two pathways. Our research examined the mediating effects and contextual factors of the relationship between team cognitive diversity and team performance. Through a questionnaire survey of 110 entrepreneurial teams (110 team leaders and 454 team members) collected in three time points, we find that: (1) After controlling team size, age diversity and gender diversity, team cognitive diversity has positive effects on team members’ knowledge sharing, and also has negative association with team members’ emotional support; (2) Knowledge sharing and emotional support mediate the relationship between team cognitive diversity and team performance; (3) Diversity beliefs moderate the relationship between cognitive diversity and knowledge sharing/emotional support, such that the positive relationship between cognitive diversity and knowledge sharing was more significant and the negative relationship between cognitive diversity and emotional support was less significant for teams with high diversity beliefs; and (4) Team members’ diversity beliefs moderates the mediating effects of “cognitive diversity–knowledge sharing/emotional support–team performance.” That is to say, when the differences in cognitions are regarded as good for the team, team members would tend to share knowledge with and get more support from other members, which could lead to better team performance. This study provided two main theoretical contributions. First, previous research only tested either positive or negative effects of cognitive diversity on team performance, which could not explain the inconsistent findings between cognitive diversity and performance. By adopting “Categorization-Elaboration Model” framework, this study tested the positive pathway between cognitive diversity and team performance through knowledge sharing (at task level) and the negative pathway between cognitive diversity and team performance through emotional support (at relationship level) . Second, this study tested whether diversity beliefs would enhance the positive relationship between cognitive diversity and knowledge sharing, and diminish the negative association between cognitive diversity and emotional support. These results can provide meaningful guidance for theorists and practitioners to manage team diversity. At the end, this study also discussed about the practical implications, limitations and future directions.

【Keywords】 cognitive diversity; information sharing; emotional support; diversity beliefs; team performance;


【Funds】 Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (71472071)

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(Translated by ZHU Yunyan)


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This Article


CN: 11-1047/F

Vol 40, No. 12, Pages 123-137

December 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Research theory and hypothesis
  • 3 Research methods
  • 4 Data analyses and results
  • 5 Research conclusions and discussions
  • References