The Effects of Diversity in Innovation: The moderating role of universal-diverse leaders

Author Name SUZUKI Satoko (Kyoto University) / TAKEMURA Kosuke (Shiga University)
Creation Date/NO. September 2016 16-E-086
Research Project The Effect of Diversity on Economic Growth and Business Competitiveness
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Past research has shown mixed results for the effect of diversity toward innovation. We hypothesize that leadership is a key in its success. In particular, we focus on the leader's universal-diverse orientation. Team diversity could lead to low social integration which affects team creativity; however, leaders with a high universal-diverse orientation ("universal-diverse" leaders) moderate this relationship between social integration and creativity.

The conceptual model is assessed using survey data of 41 teams from mid- and large-sized Japanese companies. The results show that diversity is negatively associated with a group's social integration, and that social integration has a positive effect on creativity. The results also indicate that the universal-diverse leader mitigates the negative relationship between diversity and creativity through decreased social integration.

This research contributes to diversity and group performance literature in two ways. First, it identifies a new moderator in the relationship between diversity and group performance. Second, it connects two research streams: diversity and group performance literature and leadership literature.

The findings of the study also provide implications for policy makers and managers. Today, in Japan, diversity is considered as a key for economic growth. Thus, Japanese government is enforcing policies that support Japanese firms to diversify, and the latter are increasing their efforts to diversify. However, in order to obtain positive effects of diversity on firm performance, it is not enough simply to diversify their organizations. It is also important to have the universal-diverse leaders manage the diversified groups. Hence, it is important for the government and companies to also increase efforts in educating leaders. Leaders need to have universal-diverse orientation, and they need to be able to understand people's similarities and differences and effectively manage the diverse groups.