Intergroup competition as a double-edged sword

How sex composition regulates the effects of competition on group creativity

M. Bear, K. Abhijeet, R.T.A.J. Leenders, G.R. Oldham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Building on social role theory, we extend a contingency perspective on intergroup competition proposing that having groups compete against one another is stimulating to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of men but detrimental to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of women. We tested this idea in two separate studies: a laboratory experiment (Study 1) and a field study (Study 2). Study 1 showed that competition had the expected positive effects on the creativity of groups composed mostly or exclusively of men and produced the predicted negative effects on the creativity of groups composed of women, even though the latter effects emerged at the high end of the competition spectrum and for sex-homogeneous groups only. Results of Study 1 also revealed that within-group collaboration mediated the joint effects of competition and sex composition on group creativity. Study 2 replicated the results of Study 1 in a field setting involving research and development teams. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice.
Keywords: creativity; competition; groups; sex composition; collaboration; social role theory
Original languageEnglish
Article number892-908
JournalOrganization Science: A journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Chemical analysis
Intergroup
Creativity
Experiments
Role theory

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abstract = "Building on social role theory, we extend a contingency perspective on intergroup competition proposing that having groups compete against one another is stimulating to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of men but detrimental to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of women. We tested this idea in two separate studies: a laboratory experiment (Study 1) and a field study (Study 2). Study 1 showed that competition had the expected positive effects on the creativity of groups composed mostly or exclusively of men and produced the predicted negative effects on the creativity of groups composed of women, even though the latter effects emerged at the high end of the competition spectrum and for sex-homogeneous groups only. Results of Study 1 also revealed that within-group collaboration mediated the joint effects of competition and sex composition on group creativity. Study 2 replicated the results of Study 1 in a field setting involving research and development teams. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice.Keywords: creativity; competition; groups; sex composition; collaboration; social role theory",
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AU - Abhijeet, K.

AU - Leenders, R.T.A.J.

AU - Oldham, G.R.

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AB - Building on social role theory, we extend a contingency perspective on intergroup competition proposing that having groups compete against one another is stimulating to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of men but detrimental to the creativity of groups composed largely or exclusively of women. We tested this idea in two separate studies: a laboratory experiment (Study 1) and a field study (Study 2). Study 1 showed that competition had the expected positive effects on the creativity of groups composed mostly or exclusively of men and produced the predicted negative effects on the creativity of groups composed of women, even though the latter effects emerged at the high end of the competition spectrum and for sex-homogeneous groups only. Results of Study 1 also revealed that within-group collaboration mediated the joint effects of competition and sex composition on group creativity. Study 2 replicated the results of Study 1 in a field setting involving research and development teams. We discuss the implications of these findings for theory and practice.Keywords: creativity; competition; groups; sex composition; collaboration; social role theory

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