The key question in diversity research is how differences between group members affect work group process and performance. Over 50 years of research have made clear that diversity can have positive as well as negative effects on performance, but research and practice are still struggling to formulate models that are able to make sense of these diverging effects and that offer clear guidance in how to manage diversity. The Categorization-Elaboration Model (CEM) addresses this issue. The CEM proposes that the effects of work group diversity on group performance should be understood in terms of two processes that have independent and interactive effects: elaboration of task-relevant information and social categorization. Diversity may have positive effects on performance to the extent that it engenders the exchange and integration of task-relevant information (elaboration). At the same time, diversity may be detrimental to performance to the extent that it engenders "us-them" distinctions (social categorization) and intergroup biases – especially because these intergroup biases disrupt information elaboration processes. The CEM also identifies the factors on which the occurrence of elaboration and social categorization processes is contingent, factors that may offer clear angles for the management of diversity.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Diversity, group composition, group decision making, group performance, information elaboration, social categorization, team composition, team performance
JEL Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior (jel L2), Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting (jel M), Business Administration: General (jel M10), Personnel Management (jel M12)
Publisher Erasmus Research Institute of Management
ISBN 978-90-5892-149-9
Persistent URL
Series ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management
van Knippenberg, D.L. (2007, October 12). Understanding Diversity. ERIM Inaugural Address Series Research in Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from