A conventional wisdom about teams is that they tend to perform better when members exchange knowledge freely among themselves and outsiders. Another widely accepted notion is that diversity among team members leads to better performance because of the range of viewpoints and experience of the different individuals. But are those assumptions accurate, and how do those two factors — knowledge sharing and diversity — relate? Recent research by Jonathon N. Cummings, an assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, sheds some light.Cummings conducted a field study of 182 work groups at a Fortune 500 telecommunications company that manufactures a variety of products. The teams had worked on diverse projects, including product development, service improvement, process management and manufacturing. The projects were mainly conducted between January 1998 and January 2000, with an average duration of 15 months.The average team in the study consisted of eight people. Members differed in their geographic locations (including North America, Asia and the Middle East), functional assignments, reporting managers (including directors and general managers) and business units. Those four attributes were the key factors in determining the “structural diversity” of the teams.