Date of Award

Summer 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Pilar Pazos

Committee Member

Rafael Landaeta

Committee Member

Cynthia Tomovic


The trend of deploying multinational coalition or alliance forces to respond to emerging threats in the past two decades has become a conventional approach. Beyond the advantages presented by coalitions and alliances, the literature suggests that multinational forces have raised a new set of challenges in achieving their mission: managing the demographic, functional, and cultural diversity introduced by the individuals from various nations that compose the coalition/alliance.

A large number of researchers have considered diversity a "double-edged sword" as they discovered that diversity could pose risks, as well as benefits, to teamwork. Although extensive research effort has been dedicated to the area of team diversity and its effect on team effectiveness, a systematic literature review reveals that relatively little research exists that looks at the impact of diversity on teams within multinational and multicultural military environments.

This study aimed at understanding the relationship between team diversity and team performance in a multinational military environment. The conceptual framework was inspired by both the I-P-O (Input-Process-Output) (McGrath, (1984) and the IMOI (Input Mediator Output Input) (Ilgen et al., 2005) theoretical models, and "The Multicultural Team Effectiveness Model" proposed by Halverson and Tirmizi (2008).

Diversity in teams was studied in terms of three main categories: Functional Diversity, Demographic Diversity, and Cultural Diversity. In an effort to shed more light on the effects of diversity on team effectiveness, this research also employed three team level control variables: team size, the use of standard operating procedures (SOP) that teams conformed to in performing their duties, and the directorate within which team functions. Team effectiveness was measured based on performance assessments from the team leader and the immediate supervisor. A multiple regression statistical method was utilized in analyses.

The study presented empirical evidence that within-team diversity plays a significant role on the team performance in multinational military environment. Diversity in multinational experience and age were found to be the factors that best promote the performance of multinational military teams, whereas diversity in military branch and perception of quality of work life were the factors that most undermine it. When the overall effects of the functional, demographic, and cultural diversities were taken into consideration, it was seen that the level of demographic diversity in a team enhanced team performance. This contrasted with the teams' level of cultural diversity, which weakened team performance. The role of functional diversity on team performance was found to be minor and not significant. When controlled by directorate, the use of SOP within the team, and team size, the analyses showed that only use of SOP altered and counterbalanced the effects of demographic and cultural diversities on team performance.