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From one perspective, diversity leads to an increase in the knowledge and viewpoints that adds to the creativity of the solution and methods during a software development project. From another perspective, diversity adds to the conflict in a project team, which detracts significantly from the desired results. This contradiction may be best explained by an examination of different forms of diversity. This study reports a model that considers informational diversity, in the form of a larger variety of background knowledge, in the system development context. Learning and information theories dictate that conflict related to the completion of tasks will increase under informational diversity. Task-related conflict should, in turn, create learning opportunities, which will provide the spark needed to improve the quality of the software generated by a project team. A team level analysis of survey data from 299 members of 75 development teams confirms these relationships. The promotion of learning leverages the benefits of informational diversity and serves as a mediator between task-related conflict and software quality.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2010