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Identity patterns in diverse workgroups. Improving social integration outcomes through relational identities

16 April 2009

PhD ceremony: M.W. Vos, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Identity patterns in diverse workgroups. Improving social integration outcomes through relational identities

Promotor(s): prof. K.I. van Oudenhoven-Van der Zee, prof. A.P. Buunk

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences


Many organizations are now recognizing that a diverse workforce can be a valuable resource to gain competitive advantage. Differences between people on the basis of certain characteristics (e.g. age, ethnicity, functional expertise) can provide a context for innovation, creativity and productivity, as different individuals bring in different perspectives. However, workplace diversity may often to be difficult to manage as differences between individuals lead to communication problems, conflict and lower well-being among employees. From organizational psychology literature and practice it seems that tackling these problems of social integration is an important prerequisite for a productive work floor.

In this dissertation I examine how social integration outcomes in diverse workgroup can be managed.Based on the assumption that an individual’s identity play a key role in how they experience a diverse work context and how they behave in such a context, three identity orientations are distinguished, which are relevant in organizations: personal identity orientation (identity in which the uniqueness of individuals compared to others is central), relational identity (identity in which interpersonal bonds with others are central), and collective identity orientation (identity in which belongingness to social groups is central). In several studies I show that people with a relational identity orientation are more capable to operate in a diverse workgroup. These individuals are less inclined to make ‘us’ and ‘them’ distinctions and therefore have a more positive stance towards other team members, are more inclined to cooperate and are more satisfied with their workgroup. Based on these results some recommendations for organizations are proposed.



Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.

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