Identifying Diversity and Cohesion in Small Group Interaction

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Diversity, based in difference, can contribute to group creativity and inclusiveness. On the other hand cohesion, based in similarity, is seen as crucial for effective group functioning. This study explores the interplay of these two seemingly oppositional features of groups. While researchers examined diversity and cohesion in small groups primarily through quantitative, output measures, this study uses conversation analysis to investigate the actual processes through which group members communicate diversity and cohesion. Analysis from three dissimilar small groups shows these concepts in interaction: what they are, how people manifest diversity and cohesion, and how diversity and cohesion affect group outcomes. The analysis suggests rethinking these concepts: the same moment that marks diversity can also mark cohesion. The results suggest that diversity should not be regarded as an isolated factor occurring only during group development, and cohesion should not be regarded exclusively an outcome variable; rather, both impact ongoing group processes.

Keywords: Diversity, Cohesion, Small Group Interaction, Conversation Analysis, Group Process, Work Groups
Stream: Learning, Education, Training
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Identifying Diversity and Cohesion in Small Group Interaction

Brandi Haughton

Emerson College
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Ref: D08P0124