Die-hard fans often hate to hear that their favorite musician is getting married because they fear it will break up the band. But instead, new research suggests that rock bands with married and unmarried members have the right mix for success.
The same is true for businesses, which can benefit from this type of "lifestyle diversity," a research team from the United States and Australia found.
Working groups with a blend of singles and wedded folks are more creative, innovative and collaborative, the study authors said.
"What we found was that marital diversity facilitated both critical and popular success for bands that were later in their careers," said Don Conlon, a professor of management at Michigan State University.
"So, the more time they spent working together, the more having a blended mix of people helped their musical success," Conlon said in a university news release.
Scientists have long known that groups of people with different ages, races and genders are at an advantage because they have access to multiple perspectives and talents.
But it was commonly believed that rock stars were an exception -- that band members were more likely to achieve stardom if they were single.
Conlon said the issue of marital diversity is timely given the increasing number of single people in the global workforce.
For the study, his team examined the influence of marital diversity on the success of two very different groups: rock bands from 1967-1992 (including the Ramones, U2 and the Pretenders), and MBA students.
"Because they represent an unusual context and differ in so many ways from groups based within organizations, musical groups may provide insights missed in traditional organizational studies," Conlon said.
"By looking at vastly different groups -- one driven by creativity and musical talent and the other by more traditional business measures of success -- we hope to see that this form of diversity benefits all groups," he added.
The researchers measured the creative success and popularity of 84 bands. All released albums between 1967 and 1992.
The researchers tracked band members' marital status, and assessed their creative success using an analysis of album reviews in magazines like Rolling Stone. To measure popularity, the investigators recorded the highest positions achieved on the Billboard 200 chart.
The researchers performed a similar analysis on a group of 73 MBA students at an Australian university. The students were working on a 12-week consulting project.
Marital diversity had a more notable influence on the group toward the end of the semester, after they had spent a significant amount of time together, the researchers found.
Of course, success depends on many factors. Still, "different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives associated with different life situations and choices may help the members engage in deeper information processing and more divergent thinking, allowing for more creative and exciting end products and popular success with the public," Conlon said.
The findings were published recently in the journal Small Group Research.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business looks at how diversity can strengthen groups.
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