Top Management-Team Diversity and Firm Performance: Examining the Role of Cognitions

Martin Kilduff, Reinhard Angelmar, Ajay Mehra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

443 Scopus citations


Demography research rarely examines the black box within which the cognitive diversity of the top management team is assumed to affect firm performance. Using data from 35 simulated firms run by a total of 159 managers attending executive education programs, the current research tested several hypotheses concerned with (a) the relationship between demographic and cognitive team diversity and (b) the reciprocal effects of diversity and firm performance. Results showed that members of high-performing teams tended to preserve multiple interpretations early in the team's life cycle, but that they moved toward greater clarity near the end of the life cycle. These high-performing teams, therefore, exhibited both early interpretative ambiguity and late heedful interrelating. Cognitive diversity in teams affected and was affected by changes in firm performance. Surprisingly, there was no evidence of any effect of demographic diversity on measures of cognitive diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • Ambiguity
  • Cognitive Diversity
  • Demographic Diversity
  • Organizational Performance
  • Sensemaking
  • Top Management Teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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