Synergy from diversity: Managing team diversity to enhance performance

Daan van Knippenberg, Lisa Nishii, David J.G. Dwertmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The business case for diversity holds that diversity leads to synergy; that is, having multiple perspectives results in performance benefits, such as improvements in decisionmaking, problem-solving, creativity, and innovation. Research on diversity in teams has documented conditions under which it leads to improved performance. Current diversity management practices in organizations, however, focus more on preventing the negative effects that can follow from diversity (such as discrimination and lack of inclusion) than on how to gain the performance benefits that diversity can afford. In this article, we draw on recent reviews of the team diversity and diversity management literatures to suggest strategies likely to stimulate synergy from diversity. We conclude that diversity management practices must include actions that are designed specifically to spur teams to integrate diverse information and perspectives. In addition, such practices are most likely to enhance performance if they are deployed as part of a bundle of diversity management practices (rather than as stand-alone initiatives) and if formal human resources diversity practices are complemented both with informal diversity-supporting leadership actions and with formal accountability systems for monitoring whether practices are implemented as intended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
JournalBehavioral Science & Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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