Reaping the rewards of functional diversity in healthcare teams: why team processes improve performance

Anya Johnson*, Helena Nguyen, Markus Groth, Les White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Functional diversity in healthcare teams—where members from different healthcare professions work together—is often advocated as the key to achieving quality patient outcomes. However, although functionally diverse teams promise much, they do not always deliver on that promise. Based on the informational diversity perspective, we argue that functional diversity increases role conflict and is an important factor that can help to explain why functional diversity does not always lead to effective team performance. We also argue that team processes play an important role in moderating the effect of functional diversity on role conflict and that depending on how functionally diverse healthcare teams are, certain team processes are more important than others for reducing role conflict thereby leading to improved team performance. We contrast two specific team processes (interpersonal conflict management and back up and helping) and argue for their relative importance depending on the level of functional diversity in healthcare teams. Data from 75 hospital teams support our differential predictions that interpersonal conflict management is a particularly important team process for reducing role conflict and improving team performance for teams with high functional diversity, whereas for teams with low functional diversity, back up and helping is a more important team process. These results have important implications for the management of functionally diverse healthcare teams. By identifying the relative importance of team processes, these results provide evidence for investing in team processes that enable healthcare teams to reap the rewards of functional diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-474
Number of pages35
JournalGroup and Organization Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • back up and helping
  • functional diversity
  • interpersonal conflict management
  • role conflict
  • team performance
  • team processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Reaping the rewards of functional diversity in healthcare teams: why team processes improve performance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this