Cultural Integration and Differentiation in Groups and Organizations

Chapter

Abstract

Experimental and field research has demonstrated a pervasive tendency toward pairwise conformity among individuals connected by positive social ties, and work using formal models has shown that opinions on connected influence networks should thus converge toward uniformity. Observing that diversity persists even in small scale groups and organizations, we investigate two empirically grounded mechanisms of social differentiation that may account for this persistence: First, actors may dislike or disrespect peers who diverge too much from their own views, and may change their opinions or behaviors to distance themselves further from those negative referents. Second, when surrounded by similar others, actors may try to maintain a sufficient sense of uniqueness by exploring new opinions or behaviors. Using computational experiments, we demonstrate that these two mechanisms lead to different patterns of polarization, radicalization, and factionalism and also investigate the conditions under which integration occurs. In closing, we discuss the implications for cultural dynamics in organizations.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Sociology, in Particular of Modeling and Simulation, ETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Sociology/ICSUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Computational Social Science Institute, Department of SociologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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