According to the social categorization theory, people tend to categorize their group members into in-group or out-group members according to differences in demographic attributes. Generally, people prefer interacting with in-group members to out-group members. Our research focuses on which demographic attributes affect social categorization. We examined the influences of differences in gender, age, and educational background on role clarity in 58 teams in a Korean public enterprise. Moreover, we examined the mediating role of interaction frequency on the relationship between team diversity and role clarity. Our study provides evidence that interaction frequency can and does mediate the relationship between team diversity and role clarity. Gender diversity and educational background diversity have negative impact on interaction among team members, and consequentially lower role clarity within team. This study makes several academic and practical contributions. First, this study shows how team diversity affects role clarity within the team. The diversity of team members will make it difficult for an individual to find a team member who is similar to himself/herself and who feels intimacy, which may lower the quality and frequency of interaction. The lower the quality and frequency of communication among members reduces the opportunity to exchange and share information about each other, making it difficult to clearly identify and share their roles. Our study provides evidence that interaction frequency can and does mediate the relationship between team diversity and role clarity. Second, this study considers gender, educational background and age in the Korean context among the various dimensions of team diversity. Among them gender diversity and educational background diversity except age diversity have negative impact on interaction among team members, and consequentially lower role clarity within team. The team with many heterogeneous members of gender and educational background had less interaction frequency among the members, and the role clarity was also lower. Meanwhile, with regard to diversity in age, the company has implemented several strategies to do away with inefficient seniority rule which was dominant social norms in Korean organizations. There-through, age diversity in this study appears to be positively related with role clarity as well as interaction frequency, and not significant. It is suggested that managing the demographic diversity of team is an important factor in enhancing the team interaction frequency and role clarity. These results show that the negative effects of diversity can be overcome to some extent by corporate level efforts.
Ⅱ. Theoretical Background and Hypotheses