Uniqueness is the key
Social identity refers to the different groups that a person belongs to. People often identify by physical, social, and mental qualities that make them unique. This uniqueness can be linked to both evolutionary and social factors, which create a need for individuals to be distinct yet associated. Optimal Distinctiveness Theory, developed by Professor Emeritus Marilyn Brewer of Ohio State University, explains why individuals desire to belong to a group while also standing out from others in the same group.
Social identification is driven by satisfaction and deprivation, which means that each person’s need for inclusion and differentiation is different. In social settings, people use self-stereotyping to fit in with the group’s behavior and boundaries. Research shows that a small group with optimally distinct characteristics like a small cafe provides better service and food compared to a franchise. Also, an inclusive and diverse team at work can create a fun and productive environment that fosters optimal distinctiveness.
To achieve optimal distinctiveness in the corporate world, a company or enterprise should be both similar and different from others in the same category. This requires breaking down barriers to a more diverse workforce based on cultural or societal factors. When employees feel like they belong to an in-group, and their work is acknowledged, they feel valued and individuated, which leads to a more diverse, inclusive, and efficient culture at work.
In conclusion, optimal distinctiveness has benefits in the corporate world by creating a culture that is diverse, inclusive, and efficient. To achieve this, managers must create environments that allow employees to be both part of the team and unique in their skills and abilities.