Getting Tuned in to Those Who Are Different: The Role of Empathy as Mediator between Diversity and Performance
We present a theoretical model on the processes that mediate and moderate the diversity-performance relationship. Past research on this topic – for example the categorization elaboration model (van Knippenberg et al., 2004) – has often focused on information elaboration as mediator. Complementing this cognitive perspective, we propose that group diversity can also stimulate group members to engage with each other emotionally, resulting in higher levels of empathy – an emotional state which arises from the comprehension and apprehension of fellow group members’ emotional state. Empathy, in turn, is likely to enhance performance through processes within a single group member and through processes between group members. At the core of the model lies the proposition that group- as well as individual-level empathy mediate the relationship between diversity of organizational units and the performance of individual members and groups at large (multilevel mediation). Furthermore, we specify moderating conditions for the relationship between diversity and empathy. Diversity beliefs and diversity climates are introduced as second-order moderators.
Stegmann, S., Roberge, M.-E., & Van Dick, R. (2012). Getting tuned in to those who are different: The role of empathy as mediator between diversity and performance. Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft, 82, 19-44.