Diversity in Sustainability Collaboration: Influence of Home-Organisation Diversity on Team Mental Model Development in Interorganisational Workgroups for Sustainability Challenges
Hart, R. de
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Organisations increasingly work together to face complex sustainability challenges. As groups have often proven to be more innovative than individuals, they might establish interorganisational workgroups to address these challenges through innovation and creative problem-solving. No research to date appears to have combined the fields of interorganisational collaboration and team diversity to investigate the influence of home-organisation diversity on solution-creation processes in interorganisational workgroups. Moreover, workgroup members need to have a similar understanding of workgroup goals and how to achieve these goals, i.e. they need similar team mental models, but the connection between team diversity and the development of team mental models appears to be an under-researched area. The influence of home-organisation diversity on the development of similar team mental models for the solution-creation process in inter-organisational workgroups for sustainability challenges is therefore not yet understood. To address this research gap, this thesis aimed to investigate this relationship in its full dynamic complexity. Using a Grounded Theory approach, this thesis analysed the functioning of three workgroups of the Green Business Club Utrecht Centraal, a network collaboration organisation aiming to make the central station area of the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands, more sustainable. Through semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and meeting observations, the effects of home-organisation diversity on these workgroups were examined. This thesis created a framework on how this type of diversity influences the development of similar team mental models. Home-organisation diversity’s effects proved to be dual in nature. It influences workgroup functioning both positively, allowing for more holistic team mental models and solution-creation processes, and negatively, creating boundaries due to differences in organisational cultures and incentives. This thesis thus connected the fields of collaboration theory, team diversity literature, and team mental model research. It provided a better understanding of how home-organisation diversity influences the functioning of interorganisational workgroups in a sustainability context. This enables organisations to collaborate more effectively in addressing sustainability challenges in the future.