Effects of cultural recomposition on group interaction, performance and behavior

During the last years, groups in organizations around the world have experienced a change in the cultural composition of their membership. The future provides even more cultural diversity in organizations as countries continue to undergo changes in the cultural composition of their general populations (Erez & Somech, 1996; Hambrick et al., 1998; Johnston, 1991; Wentling, Palma Rivas, 2000). Previous studies have shown that the group interaction process and subsequently the group performance as well as the behavior in homogenous groups, where all group members are sharing exactly the same cultural values significantly differ from group interaction processes performance and behavior of heterogenous groups, where all group members share different cultural values (Arrow & McGrath, 1995) . 

Researchers primary focus on the effect of cultural recomposition on a group’s interaction, performance and behavior, conditional to the group composition. They paying significantly less attention on other components like individual group values and assumptions. This is surprising, as cultural recomposition systematically occur in diverse companies with different basic assumptions, values and artifacts. Hopkins (2002) defines cultural recomposition as an event in which individuals from various groups are added to members of an existing group or in which members from various groups are replacing members of an existing group. The incoming members do not share the same cultural values. Cultural recomposition may occur in different ways. On the one hand there can be cultural recomposition in homogenous groups, where existing members share the same cultural values, while the incoming members have different cultural values. On the other hand cultural recomposition can be observed in heterogeneous groups, where incoming members may share some cultural values with one existing member but mainly, incoming and existent members are culturally different. 

The few existing studies, testing on effects of cultural recomposition on group interaction performance and behavior, are not able to provide the same results. In previous studies, some groups achieve better results in fact of changing individual social behavior significantly after cultural recompositions, while others perform less well (Hambrick at al., 1998; Neale & Mindel, 1992). The reason for this inequitable results can be found in the individual group reaction on cultural recomposition, conditional on the composition of the initial group membership. Researcher argue that group interaction, performance and behavior is significantly effected by the demographic trades of the individual group members as age, experience and gender. (Hambrick et al., 1998). Group members from various cultures tend to differ in their demographic trades. As a result of different demographic trades the individual group members show a tendency to categorize the membership in different groups, while casting negative stereotypes in other cultures, which leads to a negative development of individual social behavior. This scenario is triggered by a homogenous group membership comparison and causes changes in major interaction processes. In this case changes in communication, influence, decision making and in-fact cooperation have a negative impact on group performance and behavior (Hall, 1960). On the other hand it has been proofed that diversity in demographic trades provide a couple of benefits and advantages. Groups, consisting of heterogeneous group members tend to be open to cultural recomposition, leading to a better individual social behavior (Adler, 1991). As a result they create the ability to combine their competences and capacities to achieve better group results.  

To sum up the state of research we can determine that groups accepting cultural recomposition achieve better group results, by improving individual social behavior, than those who closure. 

How different group compositions influence the handling of cultural recomposition have been widely discussed in research. Other properties, affecting the openness to cultural recomposition, have always been excluded. 

We should focuses on the relationship between group members and how it affects the handling of cultural recomposition, influenced by the groups’ openness to cultural differences. It should be distinguished between standing and acting groups, where the former is characterized by a share of an explicit and ongoing set of relations between the individual  group member, while the latter is defined as a group with some core and a lot of transient members, not really belonging to the acting group (Arrow and McGrath, 1998). We suppose that standing groups have the tendency to closure, while acting groups are open to cultural recomposition. In fact, acting groups have a higher number of well absolved group tasks, based on the fact that the group members are improving their individual social behavior after cultural recomposition.


Adler, N.J. 1991. International dimensions of organizational behavior. Boston: PWS-Kent.

Arrow, H. & McGrath, J.E. 1995. Membership dynamics in groups at work: A theoretical framework. Research in Organizational Behavior, 17: 373-411. 

Erez. M. & Somech, A. 1996. Is group productivity loss the rule or the exception? Effects of culture and group-based motivation. Academy of Management Journals, 39: 1513-1537.   

Hall, E. 1960. The silent language in overseas business. Harvard Business Review, 38(3): 118-129.

Hambrick, D.C.,Canney-Davision. S., Snell. S.A, and Snow, C.C. 1998. When groups consist of multiple nationalities: Towards a new understanding of the implications. Organizational Studies, 19: 181-205. 

Johnston, W.B. 1991. Global work force 2000: The new world labor market. Harvard Business Review, 62(2): 115-127. 

Neale. R & Mindel, R. 1992. Rigging up multicultural teamworking. Personnel Management, 24(1): 36-39.

Wentling, R. M. & Palma-Rivas, N. 2000. Current status of diversity initiative in selected multinational corporations. Human Resource Development Quarterly. 11(1): 35-60

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