Summary of the articles Work, Design and Team process (part 2)

Deze samenvatting is gebaseerd op het studiejaar 2013-2014.

Part E: Self-disclosure and status distance


Trust, respect, and a willingness to share information, resources and perspectives, as well as performance are all a result of high-quality relationships at work and is therefore very important.

In this article it is proposed that the status associated with demographic characteristics such as race and gender complicates the decision to disclose personal information and influences whether and what type of information individuals choose to disclose to demographically dissimilar ones.

Status distance is used to help explain first, why individuals in diverse environments often have difficulty disclosing personal information and, second, how the type of disclosure that does occur affects subsequent status distance. In summary, this article focuses on the relationship between status and the choice to disclose personal information strategically in demographically diverse environments.



Scholars have argued that people disclose positive information about themselves strategically to enhance their professional image in the eyes of others. Another reason  for selective disclosure of personal information  is the desire to reduce status distance, which is an obstacle for developing higher-quality relationships. Further, this article focuses primarily on non-task-related yet status-relevant personal information that might affect perceptions of status distance and relationships at work.


Disclosing personal information

Several classic studies of self-disclosure show that people feel closer to those who disclose personal information to them. Moreover, self-disclosure and liking have a strong relationship. Further, greater disclosure of more intimate information has a stronger effect on interpersonal relationships than greater disclosure of more generic, less intimate information. Disclosure may be more complicated in diverse settings, than it is in more homogeneous ones. In demographically diverse settings, individuals face a myriad of relational challenges, including less interpersonal communication, greater interpersonal tension, and lower social integration and cohesion. These challenges have been interpreted as stemming from social withdrawal or a lack of attraction to others. However, we posit that attempts to manage status distance may explain disclosure decisions and provide an additional interpretation of the relational challenges face by individuals in diverse settings.


Withholding personal information

The benefits of disclosing personal information in work settings are not always seen by individuals. One of the reasons that people do not disclose personal information at work is to prevent such information from ruining others’ perceptions of their competence or suitability for their professional role. Take care: this choice is not about representing a false image; it is simply choosing to enact different aspects of one’s true self in separate domains. Thus, withholding personal information means that the individual presents a  more limited version of the self, but one that is still authentic in a given context. Although, this research focus primarily on visible characteristics, related research has also argued that people conceal personal information, such as sexual orientation or mixed-race marriages, to avoid stigmatization and discrimination. Goffman’s model primarily focuses on low-status individuals with stigmatized characteristics.


We build on these ideas; however, we suggest that both high- and low-status individuals may be motivated to manage the disclosure of status relevant personal information.




Communication and interaction is easier when people share the same level of status and, thus, should have higher-quality relationships on average. Status is an element of social structure that ranks groups according to their social position, prestige, or worth and serves as a signal of whether an individual deserves to be treated with greater respect, deference, or honor.       

- Ascribed status = gender, age, race, country of origin and ethnicity. It reflects one’s social position that is determined by demographic characteristics that are established at birth. These are the same demographic characteristics researchers have found to be barriers to building high-quality relationships in the workplace.

- Achieved status = this kind of status is ‘given’ to you. It derives from attainments, such as one’s education or occupation.


Status distance

Status distance is perceived differences in status between a focal person and another individual. People who have similar status develop more informal relationships. People were also more likely to form relationships with those who were more similar in status to them.

Status distance is not the same as diversity. Two different couples, can have an equal level of diversity within their relationship, but the status distance may be different.

Not only is status distance affected by the societally endorsed status hierarchy associated with demographic categories, but it is also influenced by the value that the local context places on the attributes associated with the category. Perceptions of status are influenced , in part, by competence expectations regarding whether a person can contribute to valued goals in a particular context. People’s expectations of an individual’s overall status is influenced by someone’s ascribed status, because it is so deeply institutionalized and embedded within a rich history of status distinctions that lead to systematic discrimination and undesirable outcomes for people.

Due to our discussions of status and status distance, the question arises is whether status is solely determined by one’s ascribed characteristics. Achieved status may also have an effect. Achieved status, which is associated with such characteristics as educational attainment and occupation, is a reflection of the respect and deference one might be able to achieve.

It is proposed that there will also be an interaction between ascribed and achieved status. An individual’s ability to garner status through achievement may be limited by the ascribed status characteristics that he or she possess.


Proposition 1: ascribed and achieved status will both influence overall perceptions of status, and, thus, initial status distance between demographically dissimilar individuals. Moreover, ascribed and achieved status will interact with one another to affect perceptions of overall status and initial status distance between demographically dissimilar individuals.


Status distance and disclosure

Status differences affect relationships and shape perceptions of who belongs in any given setting, therefore people’s concerns over initial status distance may at least partially explain decisions to disclose or not to disclose personal information, since people want to belong to a group. For example, two coworkers who are peers but of different race may like each other interpersonally and share work-related stories and anecdotes in an effort to bond, but they may still fail to disclose personal information out of fear that it will be misinterpreted and negatively impact their relationship. Indeed, disclosure of personal information requires trust that others will use one’s information benevolently and with integrity. In sum, the greater the initial status distance, the less comfortable individuals may feel to share status-relevant personal information because individuals want to reduce status distance.


Proposition 2: initial status distance will be negatively associated with disclosure of status-relevant personal information.



Individuals who fail to self-disclose may be perceived as aloof or antisocial by other in the organization. This situation created a double bind that is seemingly impossible to overcome. Individuals may strategically choose the kind of personal information that they share with others of different status so that they can control subsequent status distance and, finally, to improve relationships.

Status-confirming information is information that is consistent with initial status expectations and stereotypes, and it may reinforce these existing status hierarchies and stereotypes. Status-disconfirming information is information that is contrary to initial status expectations and stereotypes and will encounter such existing status hierarchies and stereotypes.

Disclosing personal information that is consistent with the stereotypes leads to stereotyping. It is argued that perceived status distance in a particular dyad may be influenced through disclosure choices that highlight the salience of an ascribed characteristic and its associated status, or the stereotypes associated with that characteristic. This article focuses in the generalized status distance between demographic categories and how the perception of that status distance can be changed through the disclosure of status relevant information, which is often related to stereotypes.


Disclosure of status-confirming information

Concealing status-confirming information from an individual who is of different status than the focal individual might prevent status distance from increasing. Individuals may be motivated to conceal status-confirming information as a means of managing the status distance between themselves and others. Importantly, concealing status-confirming information is a strategy that may be employed by both low- and high status individuals.

On the other hand, not giving status-confirming information to an individual who is of different status than the focal individual may increase status distance. Such status confirming information may reinforce and make status characteristics more salient. When individuals with low ascribed status characteristics disclose personal information, they run the risk of highlighting their membership in a low-status group, which has the dual effect of increasing status distance and lowering their own status in the setting. Likewise, when high-status individuals disclose status-confirming information, they will also increase the status distance, and they also enhance their own status further.

Thus overall, we expect that disclosure of status-confirming information will increase subsequent status distance between individuals of differing status. Since the expectation that individuals want to reduce the status distance, people will be motivated to conceal such status-confirming information strategically.


Proposition 3a: revealing status-confirming information may increase subsequent status distance between individuals of differing status, whereas concealing such information may prevent subsequent status distance from increasing.

Proposition 3b: a focal individual will be more likely to conceal rather than reveal status-confirming information in order to prevent subsequent status distance from increasing between him or herself and a person of differing status.



Disclosure of status-disconfirming information

Concealing status-disconfirming information from an individual who is of different status than the focal individual  might prevent status distance from decreasing. In the absence of individuating information, people are more likely to rely on stereotypes about a person’s ascribed characteristics. In sum, individuals who conceal status-disconfirming information from dissimilar others maintain the initial status distance between themselves and others.

Conversely, revealing status-disconfirming information to an individual who is of different status than the focal individual might decrease status distance. For example, a women who reveals to her male colleague that she is playing flag football, a male-dominated sport, is revealing information that disconfirms her female status characteristic. Such disconfirming information could challenge her colleague’s stereotypes about women and individuate her, thus decreasing the status distance between herself and her female coworker.

Shared or elite educational background, participation in high-culture activities, or participation in other activities that are typically associated with high-status may be the types of status disconfirming information that low-status individuals might reveal to help reduce status distance between themselves and high-status individuals. Likewise, high-status individuals may reveal disconfirming information.

When individuals are motivated to reduce status distance and develop high-quality relationships with others, they will be more likely to reveal status-disconfirming information.


Proposition 4a: revealing status-disconfirming information may decrease subsequent status distance between individuals of differing status, whereas concealing such information may prevent subsequent status distance from decreasing.

Proposition 4b: a focal individual will be more likely to reveal rather than conceal status-disconfirming information in order to decrease subsequent status distance between him or herself and a person of differing status.



Despite the fact that people are generally motivated to conceal status-confirming, there are some factors that may promote the disclosure of status-confirming information, while it may increase subsequent status distance.

1.Asymmetries in disclosure due to ascribed status

For individuals with low ascribed status characteristics, minimizing or preventing an increase in status distance may be a powerful motivator because these individuals often expect social rejection from those with high-status characteristics. Individuals with low ascribed status may feel less secure in their position than those with high ascribed status. As a result, they may not trust that the personal information they disclose will be used positively to promote their position in the organization. In contrast, individuals with high ascribed status may be more motivated to reveal status-confirming information than those with low ascribed status. People might strive to enhance their own status because it provides resources to them. Moreover, individuals with high ascribed status may feel more secure and less concerned about the implications of sharing status-confirming information because they are generally perceived to be more competent (late reaction on mail was a sign of greater competence of high status people and a sign of greater incompetence for low status people).


Proposition 5: independent of status distance, an individual who has high ascribed status will be more likely to disclose status-confirming information than will an individual who has low ascribed status.


2.Relative identification with ascribed status

In general, people do have a need to express central aspects of their identities and to have those aspects of their identities  acknowledged by relevant others.

Keeping important aspects of one’s identity out of the workplace may be difficult for an employee because it entails restricting self-expression. People experience frustration and dissatisfaction when they are not able to express important self-aspects. Because ascribed characteristics are important aspects of individual’s identities, preventing other from this information can lead to internal tension. For some individuals the cost of restricting self-expression may be higher than the cost of disclosing status-confirming information. Therefore, for an employee whose ascribed status characteristic is most important to his or her identity, restricting expression of that identity in the workplace may be more detrimental to his or her psychological and emotional well-being than disclosing status-confirming personal information.


Proposition 6: independent of status distance, an individual whose ascribed status characteristic is highly important to his or her overall identity will be more likely to disclose status-confirming information than will an individual whose ascribed status characteristic is less important to his or her overall identity.



3.Level of achieved status

Higher achieved status can compensate the lower ascribed status of individuals. It provide them with important credibility that may mitigate their concerns about revealing information that is status confirming. Thus, for individuals with higher achieved status, showing characteristics that are associated with low ascribed status categories may be less problematic. On the other hand, high ascribed status and high achieved status reinforce each other. Meaning that individuals with high ascribed status, higher achieved status should reinforce their high ascribed status an make them even more likely to disclose personal information. Achieved status might mitigate people’s concerns about sharing status-confirming information through:

- it diminishes the likelihood that perceivers will rely on stereotyping, since achieved status is associated with the accumultation of positive information about a person’s ability.

- achieved status may change the way others interpret information associated with low ascribed status. Hence, individuals with low ascribed status can compensate this with high achieved status and may be buffered from negative construals when disclosing information associated with low ascribed status.


Proposition 7: independent of status distance, an individual whose achieved status generates security will be more likely to disclose status confirming information than will an individual whose achieved status generates less security.


Part F: Ostracism


Belonging is a fundamental requirement for security, reproductive success, and mental health. The past decade has witnessed a proliferation of research interest on what happens when the person does not belong, through acts of ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection.


Ostracism = ignoring and excluding employee or groups by employees or groups.

Rejection = an explicit declaration that an employee or group is not wanted.

Social exclusion = being kept apart from other employees.

Aggression = intention to harm other employees.


School violence is on the consequences of being ostracized, either intentionally or unintentionally.

But what would drive an individual, or a group, to violate all laws of instinctual human survival to carry out these most heinous and violent acts? Ostracism and other forms of social exclusion often leads to changes in behavior that are likely to garner social approval and increase the likelihood of social acceptance and inclusion. Furthermore, there is also a link between being a target for ostracism and targeting other for facts of violence.

Ostracism can lead to such a strong desire to belong, to be liked by someone, perhaps anyone, that employees’ ability to discriminate good from bad may be impaired to the point that they become attracted to any group that will have them, even cult and extremist groups.

It appears that ostracism is pervasive and powerful.


In the past decade research was on social psychology on ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection. At this moment there is a tradition in developmental psychology on peer rejection and includes the themes of bullying, relational, and indirect forms of aggression. However, most of the research in this article deals with the effect of being excluded or ostracized. Future research should focus on the motives and factors that predict when individuals and groups will choose to ostracize others.



Ostracism à being ignored and excluded, and it often occurs without excessive explanation or explicit negative attention. Ostracism is often operationalized as a process that is characterized as an unfolding sequence of responses endured while being ignored and excluded.

Social exclusion à being not included, lonely, or isolated, with or without explicit declarations of dislike.

Rejection à a declaration by an individual or group that they do not (or no longer) want to interact or be in the company of the individual. Rejection occurs after interaction and separation.


Those terms are used interchangeably in this research.


An evolutionary perspective?

Since ostracism has been observed in most social species and across time and cultures, it is proper to use an evolutionary perspective on its function and existence.

The research reviewed below supports such strong immediate reactions to even the most minimal forms of ostracism.


Paradigms and manipulations of ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection


Ball tossing

Participants (two confederates and one actual participant) are told to wait quietly for the experimenter’s return, at which point the experiment will begin. One of the confederates notices a ball and starts to toss it around. Once each person has had a chance to catch and throw a few times, participants randomly assigned to the ostracism condition are ignored from that moment. The two confederates continue playing enthusiastically for another four minutes. Those participants continue to receive the ball approximately one-third of the time.


Cyberball = via a virtual ball-tossing paradigm ostracism can be manipulated.

Researchers inform participants over the computer that the study involves the effects of mental visualization on a subsequent task, and that a game, Cyberball, has been found to work well in exercising their mental visualization skills. Participants are told they are playing with two (sometimes three) others who connected over the Internet (or Intranet) and that it does not matter who throws or catches, but rather that they use the animated ball-toss game to assist them in visualizing the other players, the setting, the temperature, and so on. This cover story, like the emergent game in the ball-tossing paradigm, is meant to assure participants that not getting the ball has no detrimental effects on their performance in the experiment. As in ball tossing, ostracized participants receive the ball substantially less than did the included participants, usually getting only one or two tosses near the beginning of the game. Typically, the game proceeds 10 minutes or so.


Life alone

This is a personality test, in which participants respond to a personality questionnaire, receive accurate introversion/extraversion feedback, and are randomly assigned to one of three additional forms of feedback:

- the accepted/high-belonging condition: participants are told that they are the type who has rewarding relationships throughout life; that they will have a long and stable marriage, and have lifelong friendships with people who care about them.

- rejected/low-belonging condition: participants are told that they are the type who will end up alone later in life; that although they have friends and relationships now, by the time they are in their mid-20s most of these will disappear. They may have multiple marriages, but none of them will last, and they will end up being alone later in life.

 - accident-prone condition participants are told they will endure a lifetime of accidents and injuries.


Get Acquainted

Participant are given examples of topics to discuss and take turn talking within the group setting. After this discussion, they are separated and asked to vote for the individual from the group with whom they would most likely to work. After that, some participant get feedback that either everyone wanted to work with them (inclusion) or that no one wanted to work with them (rejection).



Other paradigms

Several other ostracism, social exclusion and rejection paradigms have been used with less frequency. Ostracism, social exclusion and/or rejection have been manipulated within the context of a continuous public goods dilemma game, chat rooms, face-to-face conversations, cell phone text messaging, role playing, reliving or imagining rejection experiences, scenario descriptions of rejection and social exclusion, and a variety of virtual reality worlds.


Theories of ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection

There are currently three major theories that attempt to explain and predict the impact and consequences of ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection.


  1. A temporal examination of responses to ostracism

There are automatic reflexive responses to ostracism that are followed by more deliberative reflective reactions. The following is the sequence in which it will occur:

-reflexive painful response to any form of ostracism, unmitigated by situational or individual difference factors

-threats to the need for belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence, and increases in sadness and anger

-a reflective stage that is responsive to cognitive appraisals of the situation, the sources of ostracism, the reasons for ostracism, and predisposing inclinations that reflect individual differences residing within the target of ostracism, all of which guide the individual to fortify the most threatened needs.


  1. The social monitoring system and sociometer theory

This perspective focus primarily on how ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection thwart the need to belong, in particular, and how a psychological system – the social monitoring system – helps regulate optimal levels of belongingness. This approach is consistent with the sociometer theory, which assets that self-esteem is a gauge of relational valuation that, when low, signals the individual that changes must be made to improve inclusionary status.


  1. Cognitive deconstruction and self-regulation impairment

The blow of social exclusion is much like the blow of a blunt instrument, and it causes a temporary state of cognitive deconstruction, much like the affectively flat stage that precedes suicide attempts. Consistent with this explanation of cognitive impairment is the premise that social exclusion impairs individuals’ ability to self-regulate, which inhibits their ability to utilize the cognitive/motivational resources that are necessary to avoid impulsive acts and to engage in hedonic sacrifice and delayed gratification.


Review of the empirical findings:

There are three stages of responses to ostracism.


1.Reflexive stage: immediate impact of ostracism

Reflexive pain/distress signal is quickly followed by appraisals and coping mechanisms that direct the individual toward thoughts and feelings that alleviate the pain.

Psychological responses and brain activation

-ostracism did not produce a systematic threat response ( a dysfunctional behavioral response that is accompanied by increased blood flow and arterial constriction), but there was evidence for increased blood pressure during ostracism.

-researchers found the rejected/excluded participants to have significant increases in blood pressures and cortisol levels.

-regardless of whether the ostracism was unintentional or intentional, it was associated with increased activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC).


Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted presumably to rally the organism’s efforts to survive and deal effectively with danger.


Self-reported distress levels

-self-esteem reduced, following temporary or remembered instances of rejection and ostracism.

- a sense of belonging, control, and meaningful existence diminishes, following ostracism.

-ostracism increases sadness and anger and lowers levels of belonging, self-esteem, control and meaningful existence.

-a distress pattern that was linearly associated with the amount of ostracism to which the participants were exposed, such that more ostracism was more distressing than less ostracism, which was more distressing than inclusion, which itself was less pleasant than overinclusion.

-ostracism increases reports of hurt feelings and pain. The pain levels are comparable with chronic back pain and even childbirth.


Ostracism-induced distress is resistent to moderation by situational factors or individual differences. In conclusion, the immediate reactions to ostracism are painful and/or distressing and are not moderated by individual differences or situational factors.


2.Reflective stage: responses to ostracism following appraisal

There are four general categories of response to the initial pain and threat of ostracism: fight, flight, freeze, and tend-and-befriend.

Moderation by individual differences on coping responses


Fight. Unless the fact that people have the same needs for acceptance and belonging, important individual differences are common in how people respond to imagined or actual rejection experiences. Individuals who score high on rejection sensitivity (RS) tend to chronically expect rejection, to see it when it may not be happening, and to respond to it hostilely. Men who score highly on RS and who are highly invested in a romantic relationship are more likely to have a propensity for violence in that relationship.

Jealousy is one response by a partner who is rejected in favor of another.

One type of fight response is to derogate those who reject and socially exclude. Although members of all cultures negatively experience exclusion, the reaction to exclusion should be culture-specific.

Trait self-esteem plays an important role on derogation responses to rejection.


Flight. Another response associated with scoring high in rejection sensitivity is to avoid interactions where rejection is possible. High scores on rejection sensitivity are correlated with high scores on social avoidance. By avoiding social situations, opportunities for acceptance are simultaneously diminished, as are chances to practice socially appropriate behaviors. Consequently, high-RS individuals who find themselves in social interactions are more likely to behave inappropriately, often hostilely.


Tend-and-befriend. Females were more likely to socially compensate after they had been ostracized, while men engaged in social loafing following ostracism. Furthermore, individuals who were high in need to belong or who were high in loneliness, were more likely to show improvements on memory for social information. And they performed less well on a task that measured accuracy in detecting nonverbal expressions.


Freeze. Once the initial shock and pain of ostracism is experienced, reflected upon, and appraised, it stands to reason that the individual’s personality will moderate the appraisal and subsequent impact of the experience and the amount of time necessary to recover from threat.


Moderation of situational influences on coping with ostracism


Tend-and-befriend. As a response to ostracism, people think, feel and act in ways that will improve their inclusionary status. Individuals will think or doing something that ought to help them to be accepted by others.

Fight. Ostracism reduces prosocial behaviors and increases the derogation of the who was ostracized and also antisocial behaviors to others who may or may not have been the source of ostracism.

Freeze. When fight or flight are dangerous responses one can respond by freeze.

Flight. Ostracized members prefer loneliness over social interaction.


3.Acceptance stage: responses to chronic ostracism

A psychological consequence of being ostracized is depression. Loneliness is accepted even as alienation and isolation.


Why does ostracism lead to aggression?

Ostracism threatens four fundamental needs:  the need to belong, to maintain reasonably high self-esteem, to perceive personal control over one’s social environment, and to be recognized as existing in meaningful ways. Belonging and self-esteem are motivators to please others, while control and meaningfulness existence are motivators of aggressive and provocative responses. When control and meaningful existence are threatened, antisocial behavior is more likely to be expected, because antisocial acts achieve control and demand attention.


Summary points:

- ostracizing deviating members makes a group more cohesive and secure.

- for those who are ostracized it is painful and distressing.

  • personality factors and cognitive factors have little influence in determining the detection of ostracism.


Part G: The importance of a common identity




To function effectively, workers should have the ability to communicate and exchange unique task information with others who have different backgrounds and should have the ability to adapt to newcomers, who are likely to bring in new contacts and also have unique knowledge.

Fresh blood to the organization and a diverse workforce can have benefits. However, the potential is not always realized, as this diversity may at the same time negatively affect the quality of interactions in the team, or  decreases team cohesiveness.

The main problem faced by teams that are confronted with diversity and mobility is that they need to incorporate the different and novel insights into their decision-making process, without losing a sense of common identity and commitment to the achievement of joint goals. The development of a common identity and feelings of cohesiveness are crucial for team decision making and performance. This article,  therefore focus on the development of identification and cohesiveness which are the key factors determining whether or not the potential for improved decision making and innovation that is provided with intra-team differences is actually realized.



Teams that have become too unified and relatively static over time are less critical towards their own output and perform less optimally compared to teams consisting of members who have just gotten acquinted with each other and have unique knowledge. This is why diversity and changes in team composition are expected to broaden the range of task information and work strategies teams can draw upon, and thus to improve team quality and effectiveness. On the other hand, the benefits of newcomers and diversity are not always realized. To conclude, it is often argued that relatively high levels of diversity and team mobility generally lead to categorization and decrease of the quality of interpersonal relations in the group. As a result it can impede the formation of a team identity.

Similarity among individuals is not only the basis for identity and group formation. According to the social identity approach and the self-categorizing theory there are different circumstances that can make a collective identity salient. People can also focus on an identity they have in common with others when this identity matches relevant features of reality, or when the identity is seen as subjectively important and self-defining.



The central proposition in the model is that task-related diversity is likely to become normative for a team – and emerge as a team-defining characteristic – when these differences are aligned with the expectations of team members. Expectancy violent theory maintains that people generally feel disappointed and appraise the situation as uncontrollable when initial expectations are violated. Congruency (=when the expectations about each other are confirmed) generally elicits instant positive feelings as it enables people to focus on the task, rather than on reconciling their unexpected discrepancies with others. Therefore, in a congruent situation, team members will not only express their opinions more easily, they will also be more motivated to work for the team, and will evaluate the decision-making process more positively than under incongruence.


That is, when teams cannot easily be defined in terms of interpersonal similarities, clarity about other potential sources of a common identity – such as the ability of team members to draw upon different information of other unique resource that can help achieve common goals – will help give meaning to the team and can indicate how the team members relate to each other.





The importance of clarity

Either when partners were fully similar to each other, or when both sources of task diversity were present, partners were relatively quickly able to develop a clear conception of their collaboration, and reported relatively strong levels of identification. By contrast, a combination of similarities and differences is more likely to confuse people as to what is normative for the collaboration, and what they may expect from their partners or fellow team members. In other words, it leads them to experience incongruence, which strains their collaboration and makes it more difficult to develop a sense of common identity or to become committed to joint goals.


Expectancy violation

We posit that the degree  to which similarities or differences converge with prior expectations affects people’s willingness to benefit from the converging or unique contributions these others can make to the task.

In sum, these studies consistently show that instead of the presence or absence of similarities or differences per se, it is the degree to which these seem congruent with prior expectations that determines whether they benefit or undermine commitment to a new collaborative partner and to the joint task.



Newcomers often bring in unique knowledge or additional networking opportunities, however these often remain unused. It is therefore highly important to examine the conditions under which teams are willing to accommodate diverse newcomers, since it is crucial that their diverging and potentially innovative ideas are accepted by the team.

The confirmation versus violation of initial expectancies will also play a crucial role in the accommodation of teams to newcomers. There are two factors will make it likely that teams experience congruency when a newcomer brings in unique knowledge, namely:

1. a collective regulatory focus adopted by the team

2.the future prospects of both newcomers indicate whether the status of the newcomer as someone who can provide a unique and novel perspective to the group task is congruent with team norms or compatible with the role the newcomer is expected to take in the group.


Collective regulatory focus

As  newcomers are in the minority and not yet seen as a full team member, it is generally even more difficult for them to convince their team that their new, diverging ideas are valuable for the attainment of common goals. Norms that emphasize openness to change and individuality can overcome this problem, and makes team members more open newcomers and intra-team differences. So, how can management interventions enhance the development and internalization of such team norm in practice? So far, this question still remains to be answered.


Teams can either have a promotion-focus, meaning that team members generally try to achieve certain ideals or accomplishments, and are oriented towards possible gains. Alternatively, teams can have a prevention-focus, so that team members are highly concerned with team duties, task responsibilities and preventing errors, as to avoid team losses.


We infer that when teams are stimulated to internalize a promotion focus and adapt this focus as a collective norm, they will not be discouraged or threatened by situations characterized by change, diversity and lack of structure. We therefore propose that such teams can also develop a common identity on the basis of task-related differences, and will expect others to bring in their unique views and perspectives in order to reach team success. By contrast, when teams adapt a prevention focus norm, members will dislike and try to avoid team changes and high levels of diversity. Within such teams, a common identity is more likely to be based on security and stability, and members are more likely to expect others to be similar to them. To conclude, we predicted that promotion focused teams will accommodate more effectively to newcomers holding opposing views, and will consequently perform better than prevention focused teams.

As the results show, promotion focused teams pay more attention to the expertise of a newcomer and consequently outperformed prevention focused teams. Members of promotion focused teams felt more identified with their team and in fact accepted the newcomer more when this person offered a clear contribution to the team (i.e. congruence) than when he or she did not share unique information (i.e. incongruence). We found the reverse in the case of prevention focused teams.

Promotion focused teams seem to respond positively to newcomers who fit this focus, and contribute to the attainment of team goals, whereas prevention focused teams apparently prefer newcomers of who fit in with this focus and easily adjust themselves to the existing team members.


Future prospects newcomer

We propose that the future prospects of a newcomer will influence the initial impressions and expectations of the existing team members about a newcomer. Newcomers can enter a team with the prospect of becoming a long term, permanent team member, or with the prospect of only becoming a temporary team member for a restricted period of time. Research has shown that permanent newcomers try to get involved in all team activities and generally share important features with fellow team members, hereby raising expectations of newcomer assimilation. By contrast, temporary team members do not usually fully participate in all team activities, nor are they necessarily expected to comply with team norms. Long-term prospects of having to work with a newcomer place more importance on developing good interpersonal relations, short-term collaborative relations make it easier to focus on how each can contribute to the task.

The findings of the study showed that teams evaluated newcomers who expressed different perspectives significantly more when they were meant to acquire permanent group membership than in the case of a temporary newcomer. Teams felt threatened by a permanent newcomer and saw him/her as trying to exert too much influence on team processes. Furthermore, when teams were confronted with a temporary newcomer than with a permanent newcomer, they performed better.


When team changes and the consequent task-related differences align with prior expectations or reflect congruence, team members are able to develop a common identity and remain committed. At the same time they also use their mutual differences more effectively.


Part H: Power-dependence


The power-dependence relation

We shall speak of relations among actors, where an actor can be either a person or a group. Unless otherwise indicated, any relation discussed might be a person-person, group-person, group-group relation.


Social relations commonly entail ties of mutual dependence between the parties. A depends on B if he aspires to goals or gratifications whose achievement is facilitated by appropriate actions on B’s part. By virtue of mutual dependency, it is more or less imperative to each party that he be able to control or influence the other’s conduct. At the same time, these ties of mutual dependence imply that each party is in a position, to some degree, to grant or deny, facilitate or hinder, the other’s gratification. Thus, it would appear that the power to control or influence the other resides in control over the things he values. In short, power resides implicitly in the other’s dependency. When this is recognized, the analysis will of necessity resolve largely around the concept of dependence.

Two variables appear to function jointly in fixing the dependence of one actor upon another. Since the precise nature of this joint function is an empirical question, or proposition can do no more than specify the directional relationships involved:


The dependence of actor A upon actor B is (1) directly proportional to A’s motivational investment in goals mediated by B, and (2) inversely proportional to the availability of those goals to A outside of the A-B relation.

So, the importance dependency relation is determined by:

-the extent that A is motivated to invest in goals mediated by B

-availability of goals to a outside the A-B relation.


If the dependence of one party provides the basis for the power of the other, that power must be defined as a potential influence:

The power  actor A has over actor B is the amount of resistance on the part of B which can be potentially overcome by A.


There are two important points to mention about this definition:

-the power defined here will not be, of necessity, observable in every interactive episode between A and B. It manifest only if A makes some demand, and only if this demand runs counter to B’s desires.

-we define power as the resistance which can be overcome, without restricting it to any domain of action.


We can now state that the power of A over B is equal to, and based upon, the dependence of B upon A.

In general it appears that an unbalanced relation is unstable for it encourages the use of power which in turn sets in motion processes which we will call: (a) cost reduction and (b) balancing operations.


Handling power when not in control through:

1.Cost reduction. With cost we refer to the amounts of the resistance to be overcome  of power – the cost involved for one party in meeting the demands made by the other. In general, cost reduction is a process involving change in values ( personal, social, economic) which diminishes the pains incurred in meeting the demands of a powerful other.


2.Balancing operations Remember that dependence is a joint function of two variables, thanthe following alterations will move the relation toward a state of balance:

- Reduce motivational investment A in B (balance through motivational withdrawal by B, the weaker members)

- Cultivate alternative resources than just B (the cultivation of alternative social relations by B)

- Increase motivation investment B in A (giving status to A)

- Deny alternative resources to B (coalition and group formation).


Operation number 1: withdrawal

We now have the power A making demands of the dependent B. The tensions in the unbalanced A-B relations can be reduced by the process of motivational withdrawal on the part of B, for this will reduce the dependence of B on A and the power of A over B.


Operation number 2: extension of power network

For instance, A and B form a balanced relation. Suppose now that a third child C, moves into the neighborhood and makes the acquaintance of A, but not B. The A-B relation will be thrown out of balance by virtue of A’s decreased dependence upon B. A is given a power advantage. So, in this case the power of the stronger actor is reduced.


Operation number 3: increase motivation investment B in A

Give status recognition to A. Ego rewards. This increases the weaker member’s  power to control the formerly more powerful member through increasing the latter’s motivational investment in the relation. This is normally accomplished by giving him status recognition in one or more of its many forms, from ego-gratifications to monetary differentials. The ego rewards such as prestige, loom large in this process because they are highly valued by many recipients and while given at low cost to the giver.


Operation number 4: Coalition formation

The forming of coalitions or collective actions (strikes) increases the power of weaker actors through collectivization. 


Part I: Power and stereotyping


There is a mediation chain between power and stereotyping, mediated by attention. Power has a negative relationship with attention and attention has a positive relationship with stereotyping. The moderator in this relationship is power (high vs. low), the mediator is attention (high vs. low) and the output variable is stereotyping (high vs. low).

In short, stereotyping exert control. Apparently, stereotypes exert control through prejudice and discrimination. Those who are stereotyped know this and rightly resist stereotypes for those reasons.

The focus here is on how power encourages stereotyping, as well as how stereotyping maintains power. In general there are three reason why people in power stereotype: they do not need to pay attention, they cannot easily pay attention, and they may not be personally motivated to pay attention.

To illustrate these relationships between stereotyping and control, two real-life examples are described below that both consider gender stereotyping, although the principles apply to other forms of stereotyping as well.


Case 1: Tales of two women

Jameson worked as a welder in DUK. Women made up less than 1% of the skilled craftworkers. The DUK shipyard has been described as a boys’ club, a man’s world, with ‘Men Only’ painted on one of the work trailers. Prominent in the visual environment were many calendars showing women in various states of undress and various sexually explicit poses. The few women workers were typically called by demeaning or sexually explicit names.

Jameson eventually filed a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination due to sexual harassment in a hostile work environment; she won her case at the trial court level. DUK has appealed, and that is pending.

What does this case have to do with stereotyping, control and power?

One answer lies in the social structure, specifically the dramatic power asymmetries between the men and women at DUK. Women as a group were radically powerless: outnumbered, out of place, and on trial. Men thus controlled the work environment and shaped it to their own needs. Essentially, one cause of stereotyping at DUK was the men’s impunity; they did not need the women for any workplace rewards.

Another source of the stereotyping at DUK was the small number of men who not only harassed the women but also were openly hostile. In effect, some men were really ‘bad apples’, such that the one who claimed that women were unfit company at work. Not knowing anything more about these particular men, one can only speculate, but an individual problem seems likely. I speculate that one possible problem was an overriding personal dominance orientation(Fiske, S. T. (1993). Controlling other people. The impact of power on stereotyping. American Psychologist, 48, 621-628)


Case 2: JW

One of the top managers Harvy brought in millions of dollars in accounts, worker more billable hours than anyone in that cohort, was well liked by clients, and was described as aggressive, hard-driving, and ambitious. But this exemplary manager was denied partnership because she was not feminine enough. It did encourage stereotyping of women in several comparable ways to DUK.


How does an analysis in terms of control fit here? Just as in the shipyard, the men were in power at JW, and the women were outnumbered, out of place, and on trial. The men controlled an atmosphere that might best be characterized as an exclusive gentlemen’s club, in which women were guests who were expected to defer to the men’s customs. The men as a group did not particularly need the few women in order to obtain workplace rewards, so again, there was a fundamental issue of resource control (Fiske, S. T. (1993). Controlling other people. The impact of power on stereotyping. American Psychologist, 48, 621-628).


Stereotyping and control

Stereotyping is a group-based cognitive response to another person and it describes people’s beliefs about an individual on the basis of group membership. There are two aspects of stereotyping:

1.descriptive stereotyping: how most people allegedly behave and prefer, and where their competence allegedly lies. For example, peopl believe that women in general are good secretaries and housekeepers, but poor welders, managers, or scientists. In short, a descriptive stereotype is controlling simply because it exists as an anchor in the mind of one person dealing with another. Anchor means that you weigh stereotyping in interaction.

2.Prescriptive stereotyping: how people or groups should think, feel, and behave.  For example, women should be nice, African Americans should be spontaneous, and Jews should be good with money. In one sense, these are flattering stereotypes, but they also demand that the individual either conform or disappoint the holder of that stereotype. The prescriptive aspect of stereotypes acts as a fence.


No one wants to be stereotyped. Stereotypes reduces power over another by limiting the options of the stereotyped group, so in this way stereotypes maintain power. Power is control, and stereotypes are one way to exert control, both social and personal. Because power is essentially control, attention is paid to those who have power. It is a simple principle: people pay attention to those who control their outcomes. In an effort to predict and possibly influence what is going to happen to them, people gather information about those with power. Consider direction of attention in a large organization. Attention follows power. Attention is directed up the hierarchy. Thus, those with less power are attentive to the ones with high power.

Next to outcome control and its attendant motivations, the powerless have less demands on their attention than do the powerful. The powerful have more people competing for their attention than do the powerless and as a result of the natural hierarchy.

Finally, particular individuals, powerful or powerless, seek power and dominance over other people, which should influence how they perceive those others. One form of control is stereotyping.

Attention may be determined by asymmetrical outcome control, capacity overload, and personal motivation, all in ways linked to one person’s actual or desired power over another. Attention then determines who has detailed knowledge of whom and who stereotypes whom. The powerless are stereotyped because no one need to, can, or want to be detailed and accurate about them. In contrast, the powerful are not really stereotyped because subordinates need to, can, and want to form detailed impressions of them.


However, it is argued that the powerful are also victims of stereotypes. But first, as the the powerless stereotype the powerful, it simply does not matter as much; it demonstrably does not limit their behavior as much or control their outcomes as much. It is more an irritation than a fundamental threat, except when subordinates are given the power to evaluate, vote on, or otherwise judge those in power. Then the powerless have been given some outcome control, and they are by definition slightly more powerful. The other instance of the powerful being stereotyped might be argued to operate when the powerful stereotype themselves or each other. One might argue that the DUK workers stereotyped each other as all liking pornography, or that the PW partners stereotyped themselves as necessarily male.




Data on power and stereotyping from the bottom up

There are three research findings:

1.people pay attention to others who control their outcomes. Attention is increases through interdependence in particular to stereotype-inconsistent information.

2.then people draw inferences from the information they gather. In fact, they construct personality profiles of the person on whom they depend.

3.interdependence increases the variability of impressions across people, so they end up with more idiosyncratic impressions, often less reflective of stereotypes and expectations.


Regardless of whether the interdependence is positive or negative, this pattern occurs. So this shows that attention follows power, at least when people are equally dependent on each other. For example, you know more about your boss than your boss knows about you. It is directed up in organizations. The powerless from more detailed impressions, so they less stereotype. From this perspective powerful people are not stereotyped.


Data on power and steeotyping from the top down

Do the powerful not pay attention to the powerless? The powerful do not need to pay attention, because nothing is riding on the other person; they do not depend on the other, so their attention should be more superficial. In fact, the powerful may not pay enough attention to the powerles. As in the cases: the powerful managers simply had no need to attend to the relatively powerless women as unique individual subordinates.


How intentional and responsible are people?

At a moment when you have power over one anther, you can be held responsible for our attention or inattention to the other person. Intent can be defined by two factors: choice and attention.

If people have alternatives, if there is more than one way to behave, according to a reasonable person, then one condition is met for recognizing intent. Attention is if people keep the chosen alternative in mind they can be said to intend the one they follow. For example, of one is dieting and thinks about the box chocolates, one finds them harder to resist than if one’s thoughts are focused on elsewhere. 

This analysis of intent applies to stereotyping: people’s tendency to stereotype is intentional because:

-they demonstrably have alternative ways of thinking about people, as members of a category or as unique individuals, everyone can do this.

-people can implement their alternative ways of thinking about other people according to how much attention they pay to those other people.

So, attention is central in whether or not people do stereotype. This suggests that people with power can overcome the tendency to stereotype the powerless by the very prosess of attention.

In conclusion there is a mediation chain:


Power  (-) à attention (+) à stereotyping : the more power you have, the less likely you are to pay attention to others and your environment, and as a result you stereotype more. 


Part J: The relation between power, approach and inhibition



Power is a basic force in social relationships, the press of situations, and the dynamics and structure of personality.

Is there an integrative account of the effects of power on human behavior? We think so and present such a theory in this article. Elevated power, we propose, involve reward-rich environments and freedom, and, as a consequence, triggers approach-related positive affect, attention to rewards, automatic cognition, and disinhibited behavior. In contrast, reduced power is associated with increased threat, punishment, and social constraint and thereby activated inhibition-related negative affect, vigilant systematic cognition, and situationally constrained behavior.


Defining power and related constructs

Power is an individual’s capacity to influence others by providing or withholding social or material resources. This capacity is the product of the actual resources and punishments the individual can deliver to others. Resources and punishments can be material (food, money, economic opportunity, physical harm, or job termination) and social ( knowledge, affection, friendship, decision-making opportunities, verbal abuse, or ostracism). The higher the value of resources or punishments the higher the other individual’s dependence on those resources. Power deals with the capacity to change others’ states for several reasons. People frequently feel powerful or powerless in the absence of observable behavior. In almost all contexts, power is present: from parent-child dynamics to international disputes.

Status are differences in respect and prominence. Status in part determines the allocation of resources within groups and, by implication, each individual’s power. However, it is possible to have status without power, so it is not necessarily correlated.

Authority is power gained from institutionalized roles or arrangements, but power can exist in the absence of formal roles.

Dominance is behavior that has the acquisition of power as its end, yet power can be attained without forming acts of dominance. In conclusion, status, authority, and dominance are all potential determinants of power.


Power, approach and inhibition (Determinants of power)

In informal interactions, individuals provide resources such as affection, information, attention, or humor and administer punishments as a function of their roles and positions within groups. Four levels are distinguished:

1. At the individual level of analysis, elevated power is associated with certain traits such as: extroversion, dominance, increased social skills, and in some cases, Machiavellianism. Certain physical characteristics include height and muscle mass for men, physical attractiveness, and even facial characteristics such as the prominent jaw are also associated with elevated power.

2. At the dyadic level, the aforementioned attributes determine the individual’s power in conjunction with other factors, such as others’ interest, investment, and commitment to the relationship.

3. Within groups, power is determined by a number of processes in addition to a number of those already discussed. Specific roles govern the extent to which group members can provide resources to others.

4. Finally, factors that distinguish groups from one another, including SES and class, majority and minority, group affiliation, and ethnicity provide certain individuals with greater control over resources and punishments.

Together, these factors determine the individual’s power.


Power influences the relative balance of the tendencies to approach and inhibit. There are two reasons why elevated power activates approach-related processes:

- power and increased resources are correlated. Powerful individuals live in environments with abundant rewards, including financial resources, food, physical comforts, beauty, and health, as well as social resources, such as flattery, esteem, attraction and praise.

- the experience of power involves the awareness that one can act at will without interference or serious social consequences.


Lack of power is related to increased inhibition. Less powerful people have less access to material, social and cultural resources and are more subject to social threats and punishments. Thus, they are more sensitive to the evaluations and potential constraints of others.

Acting in environments with increased punishment, threat and the lack of resources and being aware of social constraints, people with reduced power should be disposed to elevated levels of inhibition-related affect, cognition, and behavior.

The preceding arguments suggest that more powerful individuals should show elevated activity of processes that are part of the approach system. In contrast, the absence of power, is associated with heightened activity of inhibition-related processes.


Power and affect

Proposition 1: elevated power increased the experience and expression of positive affect.

Hypothesis 1: elevated power will be associated with increased positive mood.

Hypothesis 2: elevated power will increase the likelihood of positive emotion.


Proposition 2: reduced power increases the experience and expression of negative affect.

Hypothesis 3: reduced power will be associated with the experience and expression of negative mood.


Power and social behavior


Predicted patterns of behavior of high- and low-power individuals

Social action

High power

Low power

Content of behavior

Approach related


Determinants of behavior

Internal states, traits


Relation to social norms


Constrained by norms


Moderators of the effect of power on affect, cognition, and behavior

Power is not static but will interact with contextual factors, culture, and individual differences variables. Individual’s power depends on the resources and punishments one can deliver to others, in combination with the freedom to take such action. Sometimes, however, there are constraints on the actions of those with access to resources and the capacity to deliver punishment. Factors that reduce the freedom with which the powerful can act to dampen approach-related tendencies.


Three processes – stability of power relations, accountability, and social values embodied in cultural and individual differences – act as constraints, thus the moderating effects of power on affect, cognition, and behavior.



Stability of power relations

The threat to social hierarchies and social instability reduce the freedom with which the powerful can act, thereby activating the behavioral inhibition system in powerful individuals. This should lead to more negative feelings, careful attention to others, systematic cognition, and inhibited behavior on the part of the powerful.



Accountability = the sense that one’s actions are personally identifiable and subject to the evaluation of others.

Accountability can be constraining on unchecked power. Individuals in power who know they will be held accountable are more likely to acknowledges social consequences and take others’ interests into account.

Low-power individuals carefully consider how their actions will be evaluated by and influence others. To the extent that high power individuals are accountable, their affect, cognition, and behavior will shift toward a pattern of increased inhibition. Furthermore, accountability would lead to less approach-related emotion, more attention to others, and more careful cognition in higher-power individuals.


Individual and cultural differences

In terms of individual differences, it is predicted that individuals who are predisposed to approach- related behavior will especially conform to the pattern of power-related affect, cognition, and behavior on gaining power. Persons who are extraverted, and dominant are more likely to gain power, and by implication act in disinhibited fashion. Cultures defined by high power distance to facilitate disinhibition in the powerful as well as inhibition in the powerless. Cultures defined by low power distance, in contrast, should moderate these effects by placing constraints on the behavior of high-power individuals and introducing incentives for low-power individuals to challenge power-related expectations.



People feeling powerful experience approach-related moods and emotions; are more attentive to social rewards; construe others in terms of how they satisfy their own goals and needs; and cognize their social environment in more automatic, simplistic ways. they also act in a more disinhibited and at times counternormative fashion. People feeling powerless are more likely to feel negative moods and emotions; to attend to punishment and threat; to make more careful, controlled judgments about others’ intentions, attitudes, and actions, and to inhibit their own behaviors and act contingently on others.


Part K: Mergers and acculturation



Mergers have proven to be a significant and increasingly popular means for achieving corporate diversity and growth.

The role of acculturation in mergers is addressed in this paper and an interdisciplinary acculturative model of the planning and implementation of mergers as a strategic alternative is proposed. It is proposed that the degree of congruence between the preferred modes of acculturation for the acquirer and the acquired company will affect the success of the implementation of the merger.


Organizational culture

Culture is the beliefs and assumptions shared by members of an organization. It is assumed that although a firm may have a dominant culture, many subcultures may coexist and interact. Most of the studies attempting to identify the factors that affect the success of mergers as a strategic alternative mention the importance of more subtle issues. However, there appears to be a gap between the research about the various classifications of mergers and the research about the role culture plays in the overall implementation of mergers.


Mergers in strategic management research

The research on relatedness has shown that although unrelated acquisitions can be successful, firm that diversify into related businesses through internal or external means, on the average, outperform those that diversify into unrelated ones. The choice of degree of relatedness between the two firms in mergers depends upon the motives behind the merger. These motives can include achieving operation synergies in for example production. To obtain these synergies, a firm must select a merger target that is in varying degrees related to its  business. Depending on the type of merger and the motive, the acquiring company must decide on an implementation strategy. That strategy determines the extent to which the various systems of the two firms will be combined and the degree to which the employees of the companies will interface. In related mergers, the acquirer is more likely to impose its own culture and practices on the acquired company in contrast with unrelated mergers. Thereby, initiating extensive interaction among the employees of the two firms.


Overall, achieving operating synergies has been less than successful. Possible obstacles for achieving desired synergies are:

-differences in managerial style

-differences in compensation systems

- resistance by the members of both firms in changes of structure

- difference in personnel characteristics and employees’ willingness to adapt to culture and practices of the other company.


Shrivastava focused particularly on the importance of postmerger integration of the two companies in determining the success of the merger. He identified three different levels of intergration: 1:procedural, 2: physical, and 3: managerial and sociocultural.


Acculturation in anthropology and cross-cultural psychology

Acculturation = changes induced in (two cultural) systems as a result of the diffusion of cultural elements in both directions.

The process occurs at the group and individual levels in the three stages of contact, conflict, and adaptation.

In organizations, the various systems such as structure and technology affect the organization and its members more directly. Furthermore,  in organizations members can choose not to accept the culture of the other organization by simply leaving the organization, or the acculturation process can be bypassed if most members of the acquired company are fired. In mergers, the motive for the merger and the type of merger, both factors are associated with the acquirer, cannot be overlooked.


Modes of acculturation

there are four modes through which acculturation takes place. These modes define ways in which two groups adapt to each other and resolve emergent conflict. In the case of mergers, the characteristics of the acquired and the acquiring companies determine which mode of acculturation will be triggered.



Integration is triggered when members of the acquired firm want to preserve their own culture and identity and want to remain autonomous and independent. Integration involves interaction and adaptation between two cultures and requires mutual contributions by both groups, it does not involve a loss of cultural identity by either. As a result, the acquired company’s employees try to maintain many of the basic assumptions, beliefs, cultural elements, and organizational practices and systems that make them unique. at the same time they are willing to be integrated into the acquirer’s structure. However, integration can take place only if the acquirer is willing to allow such independence. Overall, integration leads to some degree of change in both groups’ cultures and practices; the flow of cultural elements is balanced because neither group tries to dominate the other.



Assimilation is always a unilateral process in which one group willingly adopts the identity and culture of the other. Therefore, the members of the acquired firm willingly relinquish their culture as well as most of their organizational practices and systems, and they adopt the culture and systems of the acquirer. Overall, the acquired firm will be absorbed into the acquirer, and it will cease to exist as a cultural entity.



This involves attempting to preserve one’s culture and practices by remaining separate and independent from the dominant group. Separation is likely to take place when members of the acquired organization wants to preserve their culture and organizational systems and they refuse to become assimilated with the acquirer in any way or at any level. Overall, separation means that there will be a minimal cultural exchange between the two groups, and each will function independently.



Deculturation involves losing cultural and psychological contact with both one’s group and the other group, and it involves remaining an outcast to both. Deculturation occurs when members of the acquired company do not value their own culture and organizational practices and systems, and they do not want to be assimilated into the acquiring company. As a result, the acquired company is likely to disintegrate as a cultural identity.

Factors that determine the course of acculturation

The course of acculturation depends on the way in which the acquirer and the acquired company approach the implementation of the merger. From the acquired company’s point of view, the degree to which members want to preserve their own culture and organizational practices and the degree to which they are willing to adopt the acquirer’s culture and practices will determine their preferred mode of acculturation.


In the case of the acquirer, the culture, particularly the degree to which the firm is multicultural and the diversification strategy regarding the type of merger, will determine the preferred mode of acculturation. The term multiculturalism refers to the degree to which an organization values cultural diversity and is willing to tolerate and encourage it. If an organization simply contains many different cultural groups, it is considered to be a plural organization; if in addition, the organization values this diversity, it is considered to be multicultural.


The second variable that determines the course of acculturation for the acquirer is the diversification strategy regarding the type of merger – the degree of relatedness between the acquirer and the acquired firms. If the merger is with a firm in a related business, the acquirer is more likely to impose some of its culture and practices in attempt to achieve operating synergies. On the other hand, an acquirer is less likely to interfere with the culture or practices of an unrelated acquisition.


Acculturative model for the implementation of mergers

The basic contention of the model is that given the members of the two organizations may not have the same preferences regarding a mode of acculturation, the degree of agreement (congruence) regarding each one’s preference for a mode of acculturation will be a central factor in the successful implementation of the merger. When the two organizations agree on the preferred mode of acculturation, less acculturative stress and organizational resistance will result, making acculturation a smoother process. Acculturative stress is defined as individual states and behaviors that are mildly pathological and disruptive. Incongruence is likely to lead to high amounts of acculturative stress and disruption for both individual and group functioning.

The last feature of the model is its dynamic nature. The model suggests that the mode of acculturation that occurs, the process of implementation, and the outcome of the merger will, in turn, affect the cultures and practices of two organizations. The dynamic nature of the model suggests that over time two merger partners may each move from one mode of acculturation to other modes and, therefore, the degree of congruence between each one’s preferences may change.


Discussion and implications

It is suggested that a successful merger involves not only thorough financial and strategic analysis and planning, but also planning regarding congruence between the two companies’ preferences about the implementation strategy for the merger.

The concepts of acculturation and congruence suggests that many of the problems associated with postmerger integration of two firms can be avoided or managed if they agree on the mode of acculturation. Organizations encompass different subcultures. As a result acculturation may take different courses for various subgroups within the acquired organization and different degrees of congruence are likely to result for each subculture. Therefore, each subculture need to be managed differently.


 Part L: Mergers and acquisitions and it’s relation with cultural differences



By linking organizational and human resource perspectives on mergers and acquisitions integration to notions drawn from the strategy and finance literatures on M&A, a better understanding of the mechanisms through which cultural differences affect the M&A performance will be developed.


Literature framework and research framework

The model central in this study focuses on two M&A performance outcomes: 1.synergy realization, as reflected in accounting-based performance improvements, and;

2.shareholder value creation, commonly measured in terms of cumulative abnormal returns.


With respect to the latter, there are two distinct processes by which cultural differences affect shareholder value in both the short-term and long term:

1. by influencing investors’ expectations about the future performance of the acquirer.

2. by affecting the likelihood that actual economic benefits are generated, a process that requires the realization of synergies.

The model thus point to the critical role of the integration process in determining the success of M&A.


Two aspects of the integration process are proposed to be critical for synergy realization: sociocultural integration and task integration. We propose that overall effective integration is an interactive process, requiring both sociocultural and task integration efforts. The model considers task integration outcomes, such as the extent of resource sharing or learning, as antecedents of synergy realization.


Numerous variables have been proposed to influence the financial performance of firms engaging in M&A activity, cultural differences being only one of them. Cultural differences are likely to be more associated with sociocultural integration outcomes than with realized synergies or long-term value creation for the shareholders, because they have a more direct bearing on the former than on the latter.


Impact of cultural differences on the integration process and M&A development

Sociocultural integration. We focus on aspects of sociocultural integration that seem most relevant to synergy realization, namely:

- the creation of positive attitudes toward the new organization

- the emergence of a sense of shared identity among organizational members

- the emergence of trust among organizational members


Hypothesis 1: differences in culture between merging firms are negatively associated with sociocultural integration outcomes.


Task identity. While many M&A literature tends to emphasize the potential problems in the integration process caused by cultural differences, the opposite view that cultural difference can be a source of value creation and learning has also been advanced by M&A researchers. This view is largely based on the assumption that differences rather than similarities between merging organizations create opportunities for synergies and learning.


However, these benefits can be realized only if the cultural differences between the merging firms are not so large that they interfere with the successful transfer of capabilities, resource sharing and learning.



Proposition 1: there is a nonmonitonic relationship between cultural differences and task integration outcomes, such that moderately large differences will be positively associated with capability transfer, resource sharing, and learning.

Sociocultural integration, task integration, and synergy realization. Mergers and acquisitions may be motivated for financial reasons, but also to improve the competitive position of one or both of the firms by generating ‘synergies’ whereby in combination the two firms create more value than either could achieve alone. Some of the most common synergies are economies of scale and scope, cross-selling products through complementary sales organizations and distribution channels, and cost reductions through elimination of redundant staff and operations. The focus of this paper is not so much on the possibilities for restructuring and cost cutting that arise from overlapping activities, but rather on the potential for synergy creation through the transfer of capabilities, resource sharing, and learning.


Aspects of sociocultural integration such as mutual respect and trust made the postacquisition capacility transfer and resource sharing easier; successful task integration, in turn, facilitated the development of a shared identity and trust.


Proposition 2: the sociocultural integration and task integration processes interact to facilitate the realization of synergies.


Cultural differences and synergy realization.

Cultural differences affect the extent to which synergies are realized in two distinct, and sometimes opposing ways:

1.through their potentially adverse affect on sociocultural integration outcomes providing access to unique and potentially valuable capabilities, resources, and learning opportunities, inherent in a different cultural environment.


Poor sociocultural integration will block successful task integration, and task integration cannot be driven faster than success with sociocultural integration. There is no linear effect of cultural differences on combination potential: with growing cultural distance, the likelihood increases that the combining firms’ practices are incompatible and lead to implementation problems, thereby undermining the successful transfer of capabilities, resource sharing, and learning.


Hypothesis 2: differences in culture between merging firms are negatively associated with synergy realization.


Impact of cultural differences on shareholder value creation

There are two distinct processes by which cultural differences may affect shareholder value in acquiring firms: influencing investors’ expectations about the future performance affecting the likelihood that actual economic benefits are generated.



Announcement returns.


-differences in management styles between the combining top management teams were negatively associated with stock market gains;

-the existence of significant cultural differences may be perceived by investors as a factor increasing postacquisition administrative and consolidation costs;

-cultural distance may result in an inadequate understanding of the foreign market and may cause an acquirer to overpay.


Hypothesis 3a: cultural differences are negatively associated with acquisition announcement retruns for the acquiring firm’s  shareholders.


Long-term shareholder value.

Despite the inability of stock performance studies to determine whether takeover create real economic gains and to identify the sources of such gains, it seems reasonable to assume that the synergies realized as a result of the value-creating activities of the emerged firms translate into longer-term wealth creation for the shareholders. To the extent that cultural differences have an impact on the realization of projected synergies, the acquiring firm’s market value should be affected.


Hypothesis 3b: cultural differences are negatively associated with postacquisition stock returns for the acquiring firm’s shareholders.


Moderators of the relationship between cultural differences and M&A outcomes

Dimension of cultural differences.

-national culture represents a deeper layer of consciousness and is more resistant to change than is organizational culture.

-cultural differences at the national level create relatively greater barriers to successful integration than do organizational cultural differences.


Hypothesis 4a: differences in national culture between merging firms are less negatively associated with sociocultural integration outcomes than organizational cultural differences.


-The cultural differences as in cross-border M&A are likely to be associated with higher levels of capability complementarity and greater learning opportunities than those inherent in domestic M&A.

-acquisitions in unfamiliar cultures can enhance the development of technological skills, trigger new solutions, and foster innovation, because firms operating in different cultures and markets are exposed to a wider variety of ideas, practices, and routines.

-Collectively, these arguments suggest that cultural differences inherent in cross-border M&A can be a source of value creation and learning.


Hypothesis 4b: differences in national culture between merging firms are less negatively associated with synergy realization than are organizational cultural differences.

Hypothesis 4c: differences in national culture between merging firms are less negatively associated with shareholder value than are organizational cultural differences.



Firm relatedness


The degree of relatedness is a potential moderator of the relationship between cultural differences and M&A outcomes because of its impact on the level of integration. Related M&A generally require higher levels of operational integration and lead to greater organizational changes and more extensive interaction among the employees of the two firms – and thus enhance the potential for cross-cultural conflict. Conversely, in M&A that require lower levels of integration, acquired units are often granted a considerable degree of autonomy and there is less extensive interaction among the members of the two firms, which reduces postacquisition stress and the likelihood of culture-related problems.


Hypothesis 5a: cultural differences are more negatively associated with sociocultural integration outcomes when the degree of relatedness is high than when it is low.

Taking cultural and human perspectives into account it is unclear whether the advantages of relatedness in terms of greater synergy potential offset the costs and risks associated with a more hands-on integration approach generally required in a related M&A. Realizing synergies entails considerably higher interaction and coordination costs, and the associated cultural and human resources probably may increase the risk of failed implementation.


Hypothesis 5b: cultural differences are more negatively associated with synergy realization when the degree of relatedness is high than when it is low.

In M&A, the acquirer is less likely to exhibit cultural tolerance, but rather tends to impose its culture and practices on the acquired company. Higher levels of conflict and dysfunctional behavior is expected due to changes resulting in autonomy removal such as decreased productivity, high absenteeism and turnover, and failed implementation. These arguments suggest that degree of relatedness may moderate the relationship between cultural differences and expectations of future firm earnings.


Hypothesis 5c: cultural differences are more negatively associated with shareholder value when the degree of relatedness is high than when it is low.


Whether cultural differences have no effect, a positive or negative effect on M&A performance, depends on a number of contingencies, including the degree of relatedness and the dimension of cultural differences separating the merging firms. Furthermore, consistent with a process perspective on M&A, the ability to manage the integration process (in particular the sociocultural aspects) in an effective manner is a key factor in determining the extent to which synergies are realized.



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