A Critical Review of Chatman, J. A. & O'Reilly C. A. (2004). Asymmetric reaction to work group sex diversity among men and women. Academy of Managemen

A significant body of research currently exists on workforce diversity. However, "despite an increasing number of studies, few consistent conclusions have yet to be reached about antecedents and outcomes of diversity" (Shore et al., 2009, p.117). This positivist research (e.g., Hudson and Ozanne, 1988) aimed to "provide a variegated picture of men and women's reactions to variously composed groups by augmenting similarity-attraction predictions with consideration of social status" (p.194). The epistemology of the authors is clearly in line with the positivist paradigm, that is using the scientific method reader can unambiguously discover an aspect of reality

The authors begin by examining "why variation in work group sex composition might affect men and women differently?" (p.194). In answer to this induction question, authors advance two hypotheses, and use the deductive strategy to test whether the hypotheses are capable of explaining the facts

The authors outline two hypotheses in which they detail that "women expressed a greater likelihood of transferring out of all female groups because of historical status differences between men and women at work" (Chatman and Flynn, 2005, p.438); and "men and women dominated by members of their own sex will be more normatively committed to their organizations, and will express higher positive affect and perceive those groups as more cooperative than men and women working in groups that not dominated by members of their own sex" (p.196)

The authors conducted a field study using a survey-based approach "to investigate whether men and women reacted differently to being members of homogeneous, majority male/female, minority male/female, and balanced work group" (p.196). They surveyed 189 (94% usable response rate) professional men and women working for apparel firm, which "included work groups whose sex composition varied" (Chatman and Flynn, 2005, p.438). The operative sample size was "178 respondents and 32 project teams" (p.197). Project teams ranged in size from 3 to 14 members and each team has to have "a minimum of 3 members to be included in the study" (p.196). Respondents' "average age, organisational and project team tenure were 36.9, 7.6, and 2.3 years respectively"(p.197)

To demonstrate internal validity of their research, the authors manipulated the two independent variables (sex and work group sex composition) to see what effect they have on the four dependent variables (likelihood of transferring from current work group, normative commitment to the organisation, positive affect and work group cooperation), and to ensure that the results of the study are valid and reliable, authors created control variables that held constant in order to assess the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. More specifically, authors created dummy variables to control for respondent's formal status, age, race, education, work team tenure, group size and membership in a particular division

The results of the study are clearly presented in a concise logical manner. The major findings indicated that "in contrast to similarity-attraction predictions, women expressed a greater likelihood of leaving homogenous groups than did men, even though women expressed greater commitment, positive affect, and perceptions of cooperation when they worked in all-female groups" (p.193)

The correlation among the dependent variables suggested the variables are discrete and need to be tested separately. The researchers performed ANOVA and Simple-Effect Tests to assess men's and women's reactions "across the four types of groups" (p.198). Several significant relationships were discovered at 1% & 5% level; for example, the authors found a significant interaction between sex and group sex composition. This supports the general proposal that women are reported to have "a higher likelihood overall of leaving their work groups than did men" (p.198)

Hypothesis 2a was partially supported, "since women in female-dominated groups expressed higher normative commitment, and experienced higher positive affect than did men overall" (p.198). In testing Hypothesis 2b, authors found that "women working in the male-dominated groups expressed significantly lower positive affect than did those in homogenous groups" (p.200) which supports the similarity-attraction prediction. Contrary to authors' prediction in Hypothesis 2c, the study reveals that "men in homogenous groups saw their groups as less cooperative than did men in female-dominated groups" (p.200)

In my opinion, the article has contributed much to our understanding of diversity in professional settings, and successfully provides the reader with what Gay et al. (2006) describe as "the understanding and insight" needed to rationalise the research hypotheses and justify the significance of the study

However, it has to be admitted that the current study is still far from being conclusive. Further studies must be undertaken, and larger samples must be used to improve our understanding concerning the relationship between sex composition and career advancement concerns

The authors point out that "in spite of the large number of women in the sample, the number of groups studied, especially the number with a balanced sex composition, was comparatively small, limiting authors' ability to generalise the results" (p.205)

Furthermore, "the findings may be unique to the apparel industry, which may be more associated with women than other industries" (p.205). Like most of the existing studies, this research has been conducted in the United States, and thus may not represent the situation of other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in which cultural values significantly differ and workforce is highly homogeneous

In addition, the study does not explore "actual performance and the performance differences between individuals and groups that arise from diversity in sex composition; and it does not examine whether other status related demographic characteristics, such as race, nationality, and age, affect different category members' attitude and behaviours differently" (p.205)

Despite these limitations, the study provided some practical implications and it has been cited in more than 25 subsequent articles (University of Leicester, 2009). It shows that "men and women face different challenges at work implying that managers must provide them with different solutions" (p.205). Human Resource Management should avoid inadvertently relying on status differences in placing men and women in groups. Eagly et al. found that "women tend to be even slightly more effective than men in roles defined in less masculine terms" (1995: p.141)

Several researches have been undertaken since the publication of this article. For example, Magoshi and Chang have empirically examined "how the practices influence employees' attitudes at the workplace, and concluded that diversity management practices trigger positive effects on employees' organisational commitment" (2009: p.31)

Graves and Elsass examined the effects of sex and sex dissimilarity on the task and social experiences and found that "sex dissimilarity had no effect on the experiences of men and women" (2005: p.191)

Finally, authors conclude that "similarity-attraction theory does not fully capture the complex meanings of demographic attributes to people from different demographic categories, and they believe that it is time for demography researchers to explore how being different affects people and organizations in finer-grained ways" (p.206)



References

Chatman, J. A. and O'Reilly, C. A. (2004). Asymmetric reactions to work group sex diversity among men and women. Academy of Management Journal , 47 (2), 193-208

Chatman, J. A. (2005, July-August). Full-Cycle Micro-Organizational Behavior Research. Organization Science , pp. 434-447

Eagly, A., Karau, S., and Makhijani M. (1995). Gender and the effectiveness of Leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin , pp. 125-145

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2006). Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall

Graves, L. M. and Elsass, P. M. (2005). Sex and sex dissimilarity effects in ongoing teams: Some surprising findings. Human Relations , 58 (2), 191-221

Hudson, L. A. and Ozanne, J. L. (1988). Alternative ways of seeking knowledge in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research , 14 (4), 508-524

Magoshi, E. and Chang E. (2009). Diversity managment and the effects on employees' organisational commitment: Evidence from Japan and Korea. Journal of World Business , 44 (1), 31-41, 10p

Shore, L. M., Chung-Herrera, B. G., Dean, M. A., Ehrhart, K. H., Jung, D. I., Randel, A. E., and Singh, G. (2009). Diversity in organizations: Where are we now and where are we going? Human Resource Management Review , 19 (2), 117-133

University of Leicester. (2009, June 30). Retrieved June 30, 2009, from Leicester e-Link: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.le.ac.uk/
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A Critical Review of Chatman, J. A. & O'Reilly C. A. (2004). Asymmetric reaction to work group sex diversity among men and women. Academy of Managemen

A significant body of research currently exists on workforce diversity. However, "despite an increasing number of studies, few consistent conclusions have yet to be reached about antecedents and outcomes of diversity" (Shore et al., 2009, p.117). This positivist research (e.g., Hudson and Ozanne, 1988) aimed to "provide a variegated picture of men and women's reactions to variously composed groups by augmenting similarity-attraction predictions with consideration of social status" (p.194). The epistemology of the authors is clearly in line with the positivist paradigm, that is using the scientific method reader can unambiguously discover an aspect of reality

The authors begin by examining "why variation in work group sex composition might affect men and women differently?" (p.194). In answer to this induction question, authors advance two hypotheses, and use the deductive strategy to test whether the hypotheses are capable of explaining the facts

The authors outline two hypotheses in which they detail that "women expressed a greater likelihood of transferring out of all female groups because of historical status differences between men and women at work" (Chatman and Flynn, 2005, p.438); and "men and women dominated by members of their own sex will be more normatively committed to their organizations, and will express higher positive affect and perceive those groups as more cooperative than men and women working in groups that not dominated by members of their own sex" (p.196)

The authors conducted a field study using a survey-based approach "to investigate whether men and women reacted differently to being members of homogeneous, majority male/female, minority male/female, and balanced work group" (p.196). They surveyed 189 (94% usable response rate) professional men and women working for apparel firm, which "included work groups whose sex composition varied" (Chatman and Flynn, 2005, p.438). The operative sample size was "178 respondents and 32 project teams" (p.197). Project teams ranged in size from 3 to 14 members and each team has to have "a minimum of 3 members to be included in the study" (p.196). Respondents' "average age, organisational and project team tenure were 36.9, 7.6, and 2.3 years respectively"(p.197)

To demonstrate internal validity of their research, the authors manipulated the two independent variables (sex and work group sex composition) to see what effect they have on the four dependent variables (likelihood of transferring from current work group, normative commitment to the organisation, positive affect and work group cooperation), and to ensure that the results of the study are valid and reliable, authors created control variables that held constant in order to assess the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. More specifically, authors created dummy variables to control for respondent's formal status, age, race, education, work team tenure, group size and membership in a particular division

The results of the study are clearly presented in a concise logical manner. The major findings indicated that "in contrast to similarity-attraction predictions, women expressed a greater likelihood of leaving homogenous groups than did men, even though women expressed greater commitment, positive affect, and perceptions of cooperation when they worked in all-female groups" (p.193)

The correlation among the dependent variables suggested the variables are discrete and need to be tested separately. The researchers performed ANOVA and Simple-Effect Tests to assess men's and women's reactions "across the four types of groups" (p.198). Several significant relationships were discovered at 1% & 5% level; for example, the authors found a significant interaction between sex and group sex composition. This supports the general proposal that women are reported to have "a higher likelihood overall of leaving their work groups than did men" (p.198)

Hypothesis 2a was partially supported, "since women in female-dominated groups expressed higher normative commitment, and experienced higher positive affect than did men overall" (p.198). In testing Hypothesis 2b, authors found that "women working in the male-dominated groups expressed significantly lower positive affect than did those in homogenous groups" (p.200) which supports the similarity-attraction prediction. Contrary to authors' prediction in Hypothesis 2c, the study reveals that "men in homogenous groups saw their groups as less cooperative than did men in female-dominated groups" (p.200)

In my opinion, the article has contributed much to our understanding of diversity in professional settings, and successfully provides the reader with what Gay et al. (2006) describe as "the understanding and insight" needed to rationalise the research hypotheses and justify the significance of the study

However, it has to be admitted that the current study is still far from being conclusive. Further studies must be undertaken, and larger samples must be used to improve our understanding concerning the relationship between sex composition and career advancement concerns

The authors point out that "in spite of the large number of women in the sample, the number of groups studied, especially the number with a balanced sex composition, was comparatively small, limiting authors' ability to generalise the results" (p.205)

Furthermore, "the findings may be unique to the apparel industry, which may be more associated with women than other industries" (p.205). Like most of the existing studies, this research has been conducted in the United States, and thus may not represent the situation of other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in which cultural values significantly differ and workforce is highly homogeneous

In addition, the study does not explore "actual performance and the performance differences between individuals and groups that arise from diversity in sex composition; and it does not examine whether other status related demographic characteristics, such as race, nationality, and age, affect different category members' attitude and behaviours differently" (p.205)

Despite these limitations, the study provided some practical implications and it has been cited in more than 25 subsequent articles (University of Leicester, 2009). It shows that "men and women face different challenges at work implying that managers must provide them with different solutions" (p.205). Human Resource Management should avoid inadvertently relying on status differences in placing men and women in groups. Eagly et al. found that "women tend to be even slightly more effective than men in roles defined in less masculine terms" (1995: p.141)

Several researches have been undertaken since the publication of this article. For example, Magoshi and Chang have empirically examined "how the practices influence employees' attitudes at the workplace, and concluded that diversity management practices trigger positive effects on employees' organisational commitment" (2009: p.31)

Graves and Elsass examined the effects of sex and sex dissimilarity on the task and social experiences and found that "sex dissimilarity had no effect on the experiences of men and women" (2005: p.191)

Finally, authors conclude that "similarity-attraction theory does not fully capture the complex meanings of demographic attributes to people from different demographic categories, and they believe that it is time for demography researchers to explore how being different affects people and organizations in finer-grained ways" (p.206)



References

Chatman, J. A. and O'Reilly, C. A. (2004). Asymmetric reactions to work group sex diversity among men and women. Academy of Management Journal , 47 (2), 193-208

Chatman, J. A. (2005, July-August). Full-Cycle Micro-Organizational Behavior Research. Organization Science , pp. 434-447

Eagly, A., Karau, S., and Makhijani M. (1995). Gender and the effectiveness of Leaders: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin , pp. 125-145

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2006). Educational research: Competencies for analysis and applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall

Graves, L. M. and Elsass, P. M. (2005). Sex and sex dissimilarity effects in ongoing teams: Some surprising findings. Human Relations , 58 (2), 191-221

Hudson, L. A. and Ozanne, J. L. (1988). Alternative ways of seeking knowledge in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research , 14 (4), 508-524

Magoshi, E. and Chang E. (2009). Diversity managment and the effects on employees' organisational commitment: Evidence from Japan and Korea. Journal of World Business , 44 (1), 31-41, 10p

Shore, L. M., Chung-Herrera, B. G., Dean, M. A., Ehrhart, K. H., Jung, D. I., Randel, A. E., and Singh, G. (2009). Diversity in organizations: Where are we now and where are we going? Human Resource Management Review , 19 (2), 117-133

University of Leicester. (2009, June 30). Retrieved June 30, 2009, from Leicester e-Link: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.le.ac.uk/

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