Diversity in Group vs Team Dynamics

The core difference between a group and a team is whether they are working toward a common goal.  As Kristin Arnold says, “A group is a bunch of people who have something in common.  A team is a bunch of people who have something in common and who are working toward a common goal” (Arnold, 2012). Add to this that people in a team are “mutually committed” and focused on these goals together (Sisson, 2013), and we find that a group is more independent of each other than a team (Fritz, 2019). 

Diversity, refers to differences is cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, age, race, seniority, and gender, impacts team dynamics.  An inclusive team creates stronger employee relationships.  A diverse team also exhibits increased performance, improved problem-solving ability, enhanced creativity.  In team building, work is easily divided in a diverse team since skillsets vary widely.  Diverse teams also tend not to form groups or cliques due to other common factors, so they stay diverse, and keep their open communication (Todd, n.d.).  Cultural diversity influences five factors of team performance:  communication, conflict, cohesion, satisfaction, and creativity (Ni, 2016). 

Transforming a diverse group to a cohesive team can have several advantages as well as challenges.  Advantages are unity, improved conflict resolution, and sense of belonging between team members (Todd, n.d.).  Diverse teams are engaged, challenged thinkers who innovate and process key information critically in order to make better decisions (Rock & Grant, 2018).  Challenge-wise, diverse groups may see each other as too dissimilar, so they may not trust each other or form cohesion.  In addition, diverse groups have increased potential for conflict (Wong, 2015, p.17).  The lack of trust stems from social distance or lack of emotional connection between team members from different backgrounds (Neeley, 2015).  In addition, structure and location of team members can create a negative dynamic when the team is not diverse enough or is unequally represented.  The group with the most representation may be perceived to be the most powerful (Neeley, 2015).  Conflict due to ineffective communication as well as differences in goals and values can cause poor team performance (Todd, 2015).  These challenges can be mitigated with diversity training and team-building games (Wong, 2015, p.21). 


Arnold, K. (2012, April 11). The difference between a group and a team [Video]. YouTube. 

Fritz, R. (2019, March 8). Difference Between Group Work & Team Work. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/differences-between-group-work-team-work-11004.html 

Neeley, T. (2015, October). Global Teams That Work. https://hbr.org/2015/10/global-teams-that-work 

Ni, C. (2016, March 22). What Is The Impact Of Cultural Diversity On Team Performance? https://medium.com/grow-in-the-learning-process/what-is-the-impact-of-cultural-diversity-on-team-performance-b5ea4a50d1bb 

Rock, D. & Grant, H. (2018, November 4). Why Diverse Teams Are Smarterhttps://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter 

Sisson, J. (2013, June 14). The difference between a group and a team. https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2013/06/the-difference-between-a-group-and-a.html 

Todd, S. (n.d.). How Does Workplace Diversity Impact Team Performance? https://opensourcedworkplace.com/news/how-does-workplace-diversity-impact-team-performance 

Wong, D. (2015). Exploring the impact of team building on group cohesion of a multicultural team.  https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1606&context=etd 

by Art Ocain

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