Employee Resource Groups: An Introduction, Review and Research Agenda

Theresa M. Welbourne (CEO), Skylar Rolf (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), and Steven Schlachter (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
May 2015

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are within-organization groups, staffed by employee volunteers, which have evolved since their inception in the 1960s. Originally called affinity groups, they began when racial tensions escalated in the United States and businesses utilized them to help achieve diversity and inclusion goals. Recently, their purpose has transformed to include organizational challenges such as leadership development, innovation, and change management, which should translate to significant research from the academic community. However, to date, very little is known about ERGs, and there is a dearth of studies, either conceptual or empirical, on these groups and their impact on the firm. In this paper we provide an introduction to ERGs, review the literature that exists to date, and provide ideas for a research agenda. We hope that this work spurs additional research on a critical topic for today’s businesses.

G15-13 (660)