We introduce the concept of faultline distance that reflects the extent to which subgroups formed by faultlines diverge as a result of accumulated differences across them (e.g., two members of age 20 are closer in age to two members of an opposing faultline of age 25 than of two members of age 50). We further extend faultline theory by showing how different faultline bases (information-based and social category faultlines) have differential effects on outcomes. Using a sample of 76 workgroups from a Fortune 500 information processing company, we examine the relationships between group faultlines, shared identity, work-related conflict, and multiple individual performance indicators. The results reveal that members of groups with strong information-based faultlines had high levels of performance ratings, while members of groups with strong social category faultlines had low levels of bonuses. Faultline distance further exacerbated the negative effects in groups with strong social category faultlines and reversed the positive effects in groups with information-based faultlines. A sense of strong superordinate identity among group members enhanced members' performance. Finally, mediated moderation was confirmed for the groups with strong social category faultlines; such groups had low levels of conflict which then resulted in low levels of bonuses.
Bezrukova, Katerina; Jehn, Karen A.; Zanutto, Elaine; and Thatcher, Sherry M.B., "Do faultlines hurt or help? exploring distance, identity, task conflict, and individual performance in diverse groups" (2005). Psychology. 2.