ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (2): 259-268.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00259

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Eliminating the negative impact of subgroups by exchanging members in the subgroups

NI Xudong(),JI Baile   

  1. School of Economics and Management, Zhejiang Sci-tech University, Hangzhou 310018, China
  • Received:2018-02-06 Published:2019-02-25 Online:2018-12-24
  • Contact: Xudong NI


The core of team research has shifted from team diversity to team faultlines and from faultlines to subgroups. In other words, the study of subgroups is the developmental direction of the study of team diversity and faultlines. Numerous studies have documented the negative effects of subgroups on group functioning, and scholars have explored whether team situations can eliminate such negative influence. However, no studies have explored whether the dynamic change of team composition at the subgroup level, such as subgroup member exchange, can eliminate this negative influence. This study aims to fill the research gap by focusing on this topic.
This research investigates teams with two balanced and identity-based subgroups as the research objects, and uses experimental research methods to explore whether subgroup member exchange can eliminate the negative impact of subgroups on team outcomes. By conducting experiments on 75 temporary teams (38 teams with subgroup member exchanges and 37 teams with no subgroup member exchange), this paper finds that (1) subgroup member exchange has a positive effect on team information elaboration and team decision quality and that (2) team information elaboration plays an intermediary role in the relationship between subgroup member exchange and team decision quality.
The theoretical contributions of this study are as follows: (1) it confirms whether variables at the subgroup level can eliminate the negative effects of subgroups on team functioning and proposes the concept of subgroup member exchange, and (2) it enriches the theory of CEM with subgroups involved in the path, which aims to develop team decision quality through information elaboration. The practical contributions of this study are two-fold. (1) It improves the ability of a team to solve complex tasks and managers can promote the movement of members among subgroups, such as providing them with the opportunity to work together, and valuing more interpersonal rather than inter-subgroup differences. (2) It increases team decision quality by allowing managers to create conditions to improve the degree of team information elaboration, such as fostering pro-diversity beliefs by communicating member’s belief in the value of diversity, and by explaining how task performance can benefit from the diversity of information and perspectives.
Although this research has provided theoretical contributions in subgroup research, numerous areas have yet to be explored. In the future, research on this topic can be improved by the following: (1) scholars can continue to explore how other changes in group composition can affect subgroup mechanism in the dynamic framework, and (2) scholars can continue to expand the CEM theory on subgroup backgrounds and investigate whether team information elaboration plays an active role in diversity, faultlines, and subgroups.

Key words: subgroup, subgroup member exchange, team information elaboration, team decision quality

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