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Decision Diversion in Diverse Teams

Decision Diversion in Diverse Teams: Findings from Inside a Corporate Boardroom 

AMD-2015-0129 Volume 3, Issue 4 

by Sarah Harvey; Steven C. Currall; Tove Helland Hammer 

Using qualitative data from a five-year participant observation study conducted inside the corporate board of a publicly-held company, we discovered what happened when team composition changed to increase the diversity of perspectives and interests represented on the team. Based on board meeting transcripts over the five-year period, we observed that a change in team composition was followed by a process we label decision diversion, a dysfunctional process in which the team replaced its goal of effective task performance with negotiating the interests of sub-group members. A key insight of our study is that this process unfolded as team members attempted to engage in effective task-based information analysis and decision-making. Our study suggests that the traditional assumptions underlying the understanding of team composition may be insufficient. We provide alternative explanations for the origins of the dynamics of decision diversion in teams.

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