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J Appl Psychol. 2008 Nov;93(6):1301-13. doi: 10.1037/a0012680.

Age and gender diversity as determinants of performance and health in a public organization: the role of task complexity and group size.

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Organizational and Social Psychology, Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany.


The influence of age and gender composition on group performance and self-reported health disorders was examined with data from 4,538 federal tax employees working in 222 natural work unit groups. As hypothesized, age diversity correlated positively with performance only in groups solving complex decision-making tasks, and this finding was replicated when analyzing performance data collected 1 year later. Age diversity was also positively correlated with health disorders--but only in groups working on routine decision-making tasks. Gender composition also had a significant effect on group performance, such that groups with a high proportion of female employees performed worse and reported more health disorders than did gender-diverse teams. As expected, effects of gender composition were most pronounced in large groups. Effects of age diversity were found when controlling for gender diversity and vice versa. Thus, age and gender diversity seem to play a unique role in performance and well-being. The moderating role of task complexity for both effects of age diversity and the moderating role of group size for both effects of gender diversity further suggest that the impact of these 2 variables depends on different group processes (e.g., knowledge exchange, variation in gender salience).

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