A debate whether a heterogeneous or a homogeneous team is easier to handle and manage has been going on for years. Companies, firms and even organizations are starting to make teams as the basic unit of their operations. Due to this trend, organizational researchers started to study the correlation between the composition of the team and the teams’ output (Earley & Mosakowski, 2000, p. 26). Organizational composition in terms of the homogeneity and heterogeneity of the team composition is commonly studied through the comparative advantages that each type of composition can give to a working team (Schippers, Hartog, Koopman, & Wienk, 2003, p.
779). This research paper will try to address the issue at hand in the same manner as most organizational researchers do; this research paper will compare homogeneous and heterogeneous team compositions through the advantages they can give to their teams. The hiring structure of most organizations, companies and firm includes a set of qualification that seeks to sift through the applicants not in terms of credentials but also in terms of their backgrounds (Prat, 2000, p. 3).
These sets of qualifications are commonly structured in their own ways to create a homogenous or a heterogeneous team, depending on the position of the hiring party in terms of its team composition preference. Before moving on to the advantages of the two-team compositions, it should be noted that the basic differences between the two-team compositions are its team members’ culture. Culture embodies the system of shared meanings (Gibson C. B. , 2004). It can even be said, that culture attributes the different reactions of the team members in different managerial approaches and team objectives (Gibson C.
B. , 2004). Furthermore, the probability of success and efficiency in team is dependent to the culture of its team members. Identifying the difference between leading a homogeneous team or a heterogeneous team can be easily discussed through the extent by which team members share a certain culture. In modern day organizational researches, culture sharing is not the only difference. Factors such as efficiency, efficacy of the leading model, output capabilities and even conflict resolution mechanisms are considered in organization researches that address homogeneous and heterogeneous team compositions.
Describing the actual leadership process in these two team compositions would lead to the discussions on team cohesiveness. Team cohesiveness is the degree by which members of a group (both hetero and homo) are attracted to the team (Wendt, Euwemab, & Emmerik, 2009, p. 359). It can be said, that team cohesiveness embodies the reasons for joining a team and expected incentives for joining the team (Wendt, Euwemab, & Emmerik, 2009, p. 359). Team cohesiveness is present in both homogeneous and heterogeneous team compositions.
However, the burden of insuring that the team would function is not directly related to the team composition; it is also determined by the leadership style in the team. Leading leadership styles such as directive and supportive styles have two very different effects to the team depending on the team composition. The exclusivity of the shared culture in homogeneous teams can work better with directive leadership such as seen in autocratic countries (Wendt, Euwemab, & Emmerik, 2009, p. 360).
On the other hand, supportive leadership can work better with heterogeneous team composition since the differences in the shared culture of the team can be compensated for by the support that the leadership style offers (Wendt, Euwemab, & Emmerik, 2009, p. 360). Interchanging the two leadership styles in heterogeneous and homogeneous team compositions can result to high probability of team inefficiency and failure. Following this logic, it can be said that the leadership style would determine the difference between these two team compositions; a certain “fit” must be properly addressed.
After discussing the needed “fit” in the leadership style and the team composition, advantages in terms of properly leading a homogeneous team or a heterogeneous team can now be established. Having a heterogeneous team implies that a team leader would have members with different recognitions of shared culture. Due to this, the team leader can expect different opinions and a wide range of ideas to be articulated by the team members (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, p. 207). This setup is seen in companies that operate on a high technology level.
Technology based companies tend to function in a transnational level; this allows the companies to have an experience in having a heterogeneous team to deal with their operations. The diverse pool that the company can easily access to creates a working environment, which is perfect for the creation of cohorts. According to other related researches, team members tend to speak out their idea or opinion if they have at least one team member that supports their idea (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, p. 207). This finding is the coined as the cohort formation in workplaces.
Following this logic, leading a heterogeneous team has an advantage of being able to pool a good number of ideas and opinions due to the different shared cultures among the team members. Practically speaking, a heterogeneous team can come up with more possible solutions needed to address a problem as compared to a team with members that share a uniform culture. Heterogeneous team through its cohorts also has the advantage of creating a workplace, which is more conducive for a more receptive learning behavior (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, p.
209). The cohort formation that arises from a heterogeneous team creates subgroups that are more receptive to learning through experimentation; reflective communication and codification (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, p. 209). The psychological support provided by team members that share culture allows other team members to learn more (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, p. 210). These advantages of heterogeneous teams make many organizations, companies and firms to invest in the creation of a heterogeneous team.
This trend is best seen in transnational companies’ attempts to outsource team members from different places around the globe to insure that their team has cohorts to cultivate better brainstorming activities (Earley & Gibson, 2002, pp. 230-232). Unfortunately, the advantages of having a heterogeneous team stop at the cohorts. Heterogeneous team, which is too heterogeneous in the sense that it does not allow the formation of cohorts tends to be counterproductive since its team members without some to share his or her culture with, becomes too protective of their ideas (Gibson & Vermeulen, 2003, pp. 212-213).
In this situation, organizational researches recommend the full dismantling of the team or the inclusion of other team members that may allow that formation of cohorts within the heterogeneous team. Advantages in a homogeneous team are the extreme solutions to the disadvantages of a heterogeneous team. The probability that too much heterogeneity can impede team growth and efficiency can be cancelled out by adapting a homogenized team since the shared culture of the whole team will eradicate the cultural diversity that may have started the problems of a too heterogenic team (Mello & Ruckes, 2010, p. 1022).
This is the primary advantage of homogeneous team- cohesion. Team cohesion is at its prime state if the subject team is a homogeneous team (WordPress. com, 2009). The strong sense of group cohesion in a homogeneous team allows the whole team to easily accomplish tasks and yield maximum productivity rates (WordPress. com, 2009, p. n. pag. ). The shared culture of a homogeneous team creates a sense of unity among the team members; that translates to achievements that are most probably unattainable for a common heterogeneous group. This is the primary and appears to be the only advantage in a homogeneous group.
Unfortunately, it also has its share of disadvantages. The major disadvantage of a homogenous team is that the team is prone to make probable dumb decisions due to the strong sense of groupthink mentality present in this team composition (WordPress. com, 2009). This attributes of homogeneous team composition allows homogeneous teams to be the perfect team composition for productivity and goal oriented organizations, companies and firms. Conclusion: Heterogeneous and homogeneous team compositions have been existing ever since basic groups have been formed.
The reason for their existence is the fact that each of this team composition provides a perfect fit for different organizational arrangements (Gamage, 2006, p. 57). The interplay between organizational cultures, team composition and the type of leadership determines the needed fit implied in this research paper. Conclusively, this research paper takes the position that homogeneous team composition is an advantage for organizations, companies and firms that are goal and production oriented, while heterogeneous team composition is an advantage for organizations, companies and firms that seek to provide solutions.
The cohesive team culture cultured and enforced in homogeneous team composition allows a consolidated movement of the whole team towards the attainment of their team’s objectives. On the other hand, the differences of the team members of a heterogeneous team allow the utilization of the multi perspective orientations in the advantage of the whole team. The different ideas and cultural inclinations of a heterogeneous team allow the development of holistic solutions.
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