Beyond the Double-edged Sword of Cultural Diversity in Teams: Progress, Critique, and Next Steps

Dana Minbaeva*, Stacey R. Fitzsimmons, Chris J. Brewster

*Corresponding author for this work

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Ten years ago, Stahl et al. (J Int Bus Stud 41:690–709, 2010) performed a meta-analysis of the literature on cultural diversity and team performance, aiming to improve our understanding of “the mechanisms and contextual conditions under which cultural diversity affects team processes” (p. 691). State-of-the-art studies still echo the article’s conclusion about the ‘double-edged sword’ of cultural diversity, referring to the trade-off between process losses and gains. In this commentary, we assess progress within the past decade on our understanding of this double-edged sword. We argue that in terms of adding new insights, IB, as a field, has made substantial progress with respect to understanding diversity within teams, moderate progress with respect to input-process-output logic, and minimal progress with respect to definitions of cultural diversity. Our recommendations for moving beyond the double-edged sword metaphor in the next decade include shifting focus from cultural diversity per se to how it is managed, moving away from simplicity towards unfolding complexity, and expanding diversity categories beyond culture, and mechanisms beyond knowledge or information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Business Studies
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online 18 January 2021


  • Decade award
  • Culture
  • Teams and teamwork
  • Diversity

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