The Black Box of Diversity in Sport Teams: Converging Factors and Theoretical Explorations

By Claudia Stura and Darina Lepadatu.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 20, 2014 $US5.00

Cultural diversity is on the rise in professional sports teams. However, surprisingly few studies have been conducted on the consequences of cultural diversity on sports teams. Thus, this paper addresses negative and positive effects of cultural diversity on pro sports teams while referring the term “group diversity” to differences in cultural/ ethnic backgrounds. We address negative aspects such as prejudice and discrimination, and explain team fragmentation using ingroup–outgroup bias, social identity theory, scapegoat theory, and integrated threat theory. Furthermore, we apply theories that may explain positive effects of culturally diverse teams, such as cognitive resource diversity theory, the contact hypothesis, and the social categorization framework. This paper attempts to fill a gap in diversity research on professional teams by revealing its negative and positive effects and exploring the applicability of various diversity theories in a sports context. Furthermore, it may even help to develop strategies and techniques on how to assist diverse sports teams to build team cohesion and further advance their performance.

Keywords: Diversity in Sport Teams, Theories of Team Diversity, Positive and Negative Effects of Cultural Diversity

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2014, pp.47-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 20, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 172.693KB)).

Claudia Stura

PhD candidate, International Conflict Management, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, USA

Claudia Stura is a PhD candidate in international conflict management at Kennesaw State University, GA, USA. Her research interests are related to conflict management in sports teams and the use of sports as a tool in conflict reconciliation. Recent projects involve the acculturation of foreign athletes in professional sports teams. In 2012, she submitted “The Backbone for Success,” a study of factors influencing the team cohesion of a Division I volleyball team, as well as “The Role of Sport in Peace Building.” Both articles were accepted for publication in the Peace & Policy Journal.

Dr. Darina Lepadatu

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, USA

Dr. Darina Lepadatu is an associate professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University, GA, USA. Her research interests involve diversity in organizations, especially racial and ethnic conflicts in the workplace. Past research projects involved the issue of diversity and teamwork in the business context and attitudes toward immigrant workers. She has published, with Tom Janoski, Diversity at Kaizen Motors: Gender, Race, Age, and Insecurity in a Japanese Auto Transplant (2011). Her teaching interests include sociology of organizations, work and occupations, industrial sociology, diversity and discrimination at work, globalization and work, and sociology of immigration.