Diverse workgroup functioning and transformational leadership

  • Mohanad Dahlan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Two theoretical perspectives guide workgroup diversity research: information processing and social identity. The information processing perspective suggests that cognitively diverse groups benefit from increased task-related knowledge, skills and abilities of members with diversified information sources, positively affecting group performance. The social identity perspective suggests that homogeneous groups are more productive as their members are mutually attracted by similar attributes, resulting in efficient group processes and performance. Contrastingly, it is argued that heterogeneity undermines communications and cohesion within groups, resulting in conflicts; and homogeneity offers limited potential for learning and problem-solving, hampering the development of creative ideas and innovative solutions. Despite the appeal of these theoretical perspectives, meta-analyses examining main effects relationships between diversity and group effectiveness have reported inconsistent findings. Research also offered mixed results over the influence of intragroup conflicts and the dysfunctional effects of their inevitable co-occurrence on workgroup functioning. Furthermore, although the literature points to the potential of transformational leadership in limiting dysfunctional conflicts and enhancing diversity’s positive impact on group effectiveness, this field remains under-researched.

This study aims to develop a conceptualisation that addresses the associations between diversity and group effectiveness, the effects of intragroup conflicts and their co-occurrence on this association, and the potential influence of transformational leadership in decreasing this effect. By doing so, the researcher hopes to provide an explanation for the reported inconsistencies and fill a gap in the literature. To achieve this aim, the literature was analysed, and a model of relationships derived. A concurrent mixed methodological approach was used. and questionnaire data was collected from 56 academic workgroups in three private universities in the Middle East, a total of 354 questionnaires were returned. Twenty interviews were also conducted. Results from hierarchical regression confirmed the model, displaying linear and non-linear relationships, with the co-occurrence of task and relational conflicts mediating the relationship between diversity and group effectiveness, and transformational leadership moderating these relationships. Findings from thematic analysis of the interviews offered insights which supported the model and triangulated with the results from the questionnaire. The findings add to the literature by explaining the inconsistencies of previous research. Implications of the findings were discussed, and limitations of the study highlighted which offered potential opportunities for further research.
Date of AwardMay 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • Buckinghamshire New University
SupervisorAli Bakir (Supervisor) & Kevin Maher (Supervisor)

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