Year of Publication

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Thomas Janoski

Abstract

Diversity and Teamwork are currently some of the trendiest human resources strategies of boosting team performance and ultimately, organizational performance. This study analyzes the impact of gender, racial, age and employment status diversity on teamwork, and is one of the first studies on diversity and teamwork in the mature phase of Japanese transplants. The theoretical framework includes elements of the symbolic interactionist theory, Kanter.s theory on tokenism, revised contact hypothesis and perspectives on cultural diversity (Ely and Thomas, 2001). The data were collected from interviews with 87 workers from 16 production teams working on the assembly line at a top Japanese auto transplant in US, as well as from observation, analysis of corporate literature and the annual opinion survey. Furthermore, intermediary variables like team climate or team spirit have been found to mediate the relationships between diversity and team performance. Gender mixed teams reported a more enjoyable and pleasant experience in teams, whereas the male teams exposed more rivalry and competition and the female teams had more interpersonal conflicts. Similarly, the racially diverse teams have more fun and more interesting things to discuss at work, which alleviates the boredom caused by the routine of the assembly-line. Age-balanced teams also have optimal functioning in terms of productivity, quality, safety and problem-solving. Differences in employment status were found to bring inequality and different standards of performance for permanent and temporary workers, which can threaten the fundamental principles of teamwork.

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