Group heterogeneity influences complex and novel outcomes
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Research on diversity impacting group performance, especially creativity, has yielded varied, inconsistent outcomes. One initial issue that researchers face is identifying and measuring diversity within groups. Further, groups researchers have suggested that diversity is important when it is task-relevant; however, there is limited research on electronic groups working together over time to solve a creative problem. Additionally, the current body of research fails to address how specifically manipulated diversity impacts group performance over time. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by examining individuals assigned to heterogeneous or homogeneous groups. Participants were randomly assigned to these conditions based on variety (cognitive diversity or diversity in knowledge) and examined over the course of three sessions in which the groups worked together (asynchronously) to generate creative solutions to the task of creating the ideal university of the future. Planned analyses revealed no significant differences between groups. Additional exploratory analyses designed to examine possible differences based on cognitive diversity revealed significant differences between groups for cognitive processes content included in the final product. Theoretical conclusions, practical applications, and future directions for researchers are discussed.