Learning from Diversity: A Theoretical Exploration
Public-sector organizations tend to be more racially and ethnically diverse than private-sector organizations, leading to the challenge of enhancing heterogeneous work group effectiveness. Recent work suggests that a group's "diversity perspective," or set of beliefs about the role of cultural diversity, moderates diverse group performance. One perspective, the integration and learning perspective, argues that heterogeneous groups function better when they believe that cultural identities can be tapped as sources of new ideas and experiences about work. However, simply holding the integration and learning perspective may not be sufficient. Research on general group learning has shown that it requires particular behaviors and cognitive frames. This article integrates recent work on diversity perspectives with long-standing research on team learning to propose a conceptual model of learning in culturally diverse groups. It suggests that both the integration and learning perspective and more generic learning frames and skills must be present.