Sustainability Threat. Employee mobility, outsourcing and long-distance cooperation in virtual teams have loosened the ties among employees and their place of work. As a result, commitment to one’s family or community more easily reduces cooperation at work, for instance when this requires relocation or irregular work hours. The pull of different allegiances and identities can elicit spillover effects that undermine work commitment.
State of the Art. The double-edged nature of employee heterogeneity as a potential source of innovation on the one hand and a source of conflict and loss of commitment on the other is well documented. When people differ from each other in multiple ways, for instance because differences in career prospects or professions converge with ethno-religious background, gender, and age, faultlines emerge that undermine cooperation.
Main Proposition. Our SCOOP analysis provides for the possibility that the different networks and identities people have outside work not necessarily detract from their work commitments (and adjusting goals to countenance compatibility plays a role here too). In fact, family and community allegiances offer alternative ways to unite and bind individuals, also at work. Cooperation at work can be safeguarded by catering to diverging needs of different groups of employees and offering opportunities to work towards joint goals and build common identities, even if these are unrelated to work.
Main Outcome. This research will establish the conditions under which formal organizational arrangements and social support networks strengthen – instead of undermine - the development of long term sustainable cooperation among heterogeneous groups of workers.