Bridging and Bonding: Disentangling Two Mechanisms Underlying the Diversity–Performance Relationship

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Ahead of Print. Although extensive research has examined whether diversity hinders or improves organizational performance, the aggregate results remain inconclusive. Social bridging theories argue that diverse organizations perform better than homogeneous organizations, while social bonding theories argue that diverse organizations perform worse. When scholars test these competing theories, they often specify bridging and bonding as the inverse of one another. This study instead specifies them as distinct mechanisms and measures them independently using data from a national study of organizations containing information on the race, class, gender, and religion of each organization’s leadership team and the frequency, type, and content of their interactions. The analysis indicates that both bridging and bonding are positively associated with an organization’s performance; however, their respective performance benefits depend on the type of task being performed. The results suggest that social diversity facilitates performance related to accessing external resources and social interaction facilitates performance related to internal coordination.

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly |  

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