A study on Workforce Diversity Management CHAPTER I: Introduction Workforce diversity refers to the composition of work units in terms of the cultural or demographic characteristics that are salient and symbolically meaningful in the relationships among group members. Although generally thought of as the purview of management research, the topic of workforce diversity draws from and is relevant to research from sociology and psychology (Turner & Haslam, 2001). Workforce has become increasingly diverse over the last decade. Employees from different generations, gender, nationalities and cultures often work together in the same organisation.
With such workforce diversity, it becomes important for organisations to put in place policies and practices to build an inclusive and harmonious workplace. An inclusive and harmonious workplace is one that appreciates differences amongst workers and works towards maximising their potential (Webber & Donahue, 2001). The Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity defines Diversity as: “The variety of experiences and perspective which arise from differences in race, culture, religion, mental or physical abilities, heritage, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics. So why is it when many people think of diversity, they think first of ethnicity and race, and then gender? Diversity is much broader. Diversity is otherness or those human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups, to which we belong, yet present in other individuals and groups. It’s important to understand how the dimensions affect performance, motivation, success, and interactions with others. Institutional structures and practices that have presented barriers to some dimensions of diversity should be examined, challenged, and removed.
The growing sophistication of research on diversity in organizations parallels the evolution of organizations into increasingly complex and dynamic forms. More than a decade ago, Miles and Snow (1986) described a futuristic network organization characterized by constantly evolving inter-team linkages that allow organizations to quickly respond to technological and market changes, and thereby improves their chances of survival. Today, many witness widespread implementation of such team-based organizational forms (Hackman, 1999).
As teams interact with other teams, the organizational context in which teams operate can create opportunities as well as pose challenges for team functioning. This considers how the demographic characteristics of the organizational context influences teamwork and so attempt to contribute to the academic discourse on diversity in two ways. First, the attention was drawn to the intrinsic value of diversity in relation to a team’s external relationships. To meet organizational goals, each team must be effective in terms of its internal functioning.
In addition, each team must effectively manage its relationships with other teams and individuals in the organization. Through their relationships, team members may gain access to needed resources and exert influence that is beneficial to the team and its individual members. Past research, grounded in social psychological theory, has focused on the negative relationship between team diversity and internal team processes such as team cooperation. An additional component of team functioning is relationships between teams.
Based on social psychological theories, many argue that diversity in teams will he manifested in cooperative behaviours between teams in organizations. Secondly, to provide a framework for understanding how the demographic composition of organizations influences the relationships between and within teams. By recognizing organizational level demography as a contextual influence on the outcomes of team diversity, draw workplace diversity research into the realm of cross-level theory and methodology.
Based on an ongoing research study involving several hundred service teams also provide empirical support for our theoretical framework and make suggestions for future research and practice. This chapter is primarily organized into four sections. Past research on team functioning has found that the diversity present in teams has important implications for how team members behave toward each other, as well as for the team’s overall performance. In the first section, begin by considering the implication of team diversity for cooperative behaviours within teams.
Next, in the second section extend existing research and theory to describe how team diversity is likely to influence external team relationships and cooperation between teams. The review and extension of the literature suggest that diversity can have paradoxical consequences in organizations. On the one hand, diverse work teams may experience lower levels of cooperation among team members. On the other hand, diversity within a team may bolster the team’s external communication and its ability to cooperate with other teams.
Thirdly, argues that understanding these paradoxical outcomes of team diversity would be incomplete without an appreciation of the context in which teams function. Specifically, consider how the degree of diversity present in the broader organization is likely to influence the interpersonal dynamics that arise within and between teams. Using a multi-level approach, propose that the demography of the organization within which diverse teams operate is an important factor that determines the degree of cooperation within and between diverse work teams.
The results of a recent study illustrate the importance of considering the demographic context in which teams operate. Fourthly discusses the theoretical as well as practical implications of the findings (Turner & Haslam, 2001). The Meaning of Work Team Diversity: During the past decade, the term “diversity” has been widely used to refer to the demographic composition of a team. In empirical studies, team diversity is usually measured using the compositional approach (Tsui & Gutek, 2000), which focuses on the distribution of demographic attributes-e . . age, ethnicity, gender-within teams . Studies of team diversity directly parallel the methods that have been used to study organizational demography, which is a closely related field of study. Researchers studying team diversity and organizational demography both assess the extent to which members of an organizational unit are (dis)similar to each other. Furthermore, both literatures use indices of variation (not central tendency) to assess the composition of organizational units (teams, departments, entire organizations).
In studies of team diversity and organizational demography, numerous attributes have proved to be of interest, including age, gender, ethnicity, length of tenure in the organization, functional specialization, educational background, cultural values, and personality. Refering to these attributes as the content of diversity (following Jackson, May, & Whitney, 1995) Importance of Work force Diversity Management: When an organization has people of different ethnicities and a greater roportion of women than the industry average, naturally the question arises as to how to reconcile the differences between these employees without causing too much friction in everyday interactions. Managing diversity is important as otherwise the performance of the organization takes a hit and worse, there can be possible lawsuits and legal tangles from disaffected employees who feel aggrieved because of instances of discrimination and harassment based on their ethnicity or gender.
A scheme for categorizing the personal attributes of individuals: | Attributes that are more likely to be task related| Attributes that are more likely to be relationship oriented| Readily detected attributes | Department/unit membership, Organizational tenure,Formal credentials and titlesEducation levelMemberships in professional associations| SexSocioeconomic statusAgeRaceEthnicityReligionPolitical membershipsNationalitySexual orientation| Underlying attributes| Knowledge and expertise Cognitive skills and abilities Physical skills and abilities| GenderClass identityAttitudesValuesPersonalityRacial/ethnic identitySexual identityOther social identities| Broadly defined, the content of diversity can be classified as relations oriented and task oriented (Jackson, May, & Whitney, 1995; Milliken & Martins, 1996).
Relations-oriented diversity refers to the distribution of attributes that are instrumental in shaping interpersonal relationships, but which typically have no apparent direct implications for task performance. The term here, relations-oriented diversity is similar to what Jehn, Chadwick, and Thatcher (1997) called social-category diversity. As the term suggests, task-oriented diversity refers to the distribution of performance-relevant attributes. In contrast to Jehn, Chadwick, and Thatcher (1997), we do not distinguish between informational diversity and diversity of views about the team’s objectives. In our taxonomy, both of these are considered types of task-related diversity.
As shown in Table, many attributes can be readily detected by members of a group, while others are psychological characteristics that become evident as team members become personally acquainted. A growing literature supports the general proposition that diverse teams function differently from homogeneous teams ( Jackson, May, & Whitney, 1995; Milliken & Martins, 1996 ; Webber & Donahue, 2001; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998). Although the mechanisms through which diversity operates are not yet fully understood, existing theories point to two fundamental explanations-both of which are likely to be true. Sociological explanations assume that social groups compete with each other for material and social resources, creating a situation of conflict rather than cooperation (e . g. Blalock, 1967).
Within this perspective, social groups are defined by demographic categories (e . g. based on race, gender, age). Thus, readily detected attributes are the signals that provide information about group membership and determines whether interactions will be characterized by competition or cooperation . In contrast, many psychological explanations emphasize the role of personality, cognition, and values as determinants of behavior. Psychologically oriented researchers who focus on the role of individual differences often assume that attributes such as age, gender, and race are of little theoretical interest-at best, they serve as convenient but weak measures of more relevant underlying attributes such as beliefs and values.
Positioned between these two extremes is social identity theory, assumes that social and psychological processes mutually influence each other. This chapter, assume that all of these perspectives can be useful for explaining the behavior of people working in diverse or homogeneous settings, and draw on multiple theoretical perspectives (Turner & Haslam, 2001). DIVERSITY AND COOPERATION WITHIN TEAMS: Research on inter-group relations shows that conflict is a common outcome when members of different groups come into contact with each other. By definition, diverse work teams include members who can be identified as belonging to distinct groups .
When findings from research on inter-group relations is applied to understanding dynamics within diverse teams, the natural prediction is that diversity in work teams leads to negative outcomes such as disruptive conflict (Guzzo & Shea, 1992) . The most widely used perspective for explaining the negative outcomes of team diversity is social identity theory. According to social identity theory, it is predictable that people will exhibit a favorable bias toward others who are viewed as members of their in-group, and they will view themselves as being in conflict with out-group members (Turner & Haslam, 2001). Within work teams, the categorization of team members into those belonging o an in-group and out-group creates a barrier to cooperative behavior and may even stimulate competitive behavior among members of a team (Brewer, 1995 ; Lott & Lott, 1965 ; Sanchez-Mazas, Roux, & Mugny, 1994). After nearly three decades of research, there is now substantial evidence to demonstrate that simply categorizing someone as a member of the in-group or out-group determines subsequent interactions with that person. In-group members are assumed to have shared interests and goals, and cooperative behavior follows because it is consistent with one’s self-interest. Furthermore, readily detected personal attributes such as gender, ethnicity, organizational tenure, and age stimulate perceptions of in-group and out-group membership (Ashforth & Mael, 1989).
When members of a work team are similar on these attributes (low diversity), team members are likely to view each other as belonging to the in-group. In a homogeneous team, higher levels of in-group identification result in more cooperative behaviors (Kramer, 1991). In a heterogeneous team, however, the apparent dissimilarity among team members inhibits in-group identification, which translates into low cooperation among team members (Kramer, 1991) . Social identity theory is clear in predicting that social categorization processes are important determinants of cooperation and competition. In addition, there is substantial empirical evidence showing that perceptions of in-group and out-group status can be formed on the basis of minimal information.
People need not interact with each other in order to perceive that they share common interests. Simply knowing that another person is similar e . g. knowing that the person belongs to one’s own demographic group-is sufficient to trigger in-group categorization and cooperation (Oakes, Haslam, & Turner, 1994) . Furthermore, such categorization is more likely to occur in demographically heterogeneous groups (Stroessner, 1996). Theory predicts that diversity within a team is likely to result in competitive behaviour and conflict. Despite this clear prediction, empirical research has found mixed results. Here briefly summarized the studies relating work team diversity to within-team cooperation.
First consider how diversity on relations-oriented attributes influences team dynamics, and then review studies that examined the effects of diversity on task-related attributes. Relations-oriented Diversity and Team Functioning: When examining the effects of diversity on team functioning, researchers have used a variety Of indicators to assess intra-team dynamics. Although cooperation is seldom measured Directly, inferences about the effects of diversity on cooperation can be easily drawn from studies that measure closely related constructs such as conflict and social integration(Turner & Haslam, 2001). GENDER: Studies that have examined the relationship between gender diversity have yielded mixed findings.
For example, in a laboratory setting, members of mixed gender groups reported lower levels of “friendliness” and higher levels of conflict in comparison to homogeneous work groups (Alagna, Reddy, & Collins, 1982). In a field setting, Tsui, Egan, and O’Reilly (1992) found that being dissimilar to the group in terms of gender resulted in feelings of lower social integration. Lewis and Gibson (2000) found that gender diversity was associated with lower perceptions of collective efficacy in the group, but the effect was too weak to reach conventional levels of statistical significance. Similarly, no significant findings were reported by Pelled, Eisenhardt, and Xin (1999) in a study of product development teams. RACE AND ETHNICITY:
With regard to racial and ethnic diversity, early research into the consequences of social desegregation within the United States suggested that increasing racial diversity in predominantly white communities led to increased levels of racial conflict (Blalock, 1967 ; Reed, 1972). Similarly, in a study of work groups developing new processes and electronic products, Pelled, Eisenhardt, and Xin (1999) found that racial diversity was associated with higher levels of emotional conflict in teams. In a laboratory study of student groups, Watson, Kumar, and Michaelson (1993) found that racially diverse groups exhibited lower cooperation compared to homogeneous groups. AGE: Along with the trend of an aging US workforce has come increased interest in understanding intergenerational relationships within organizations (e. g. see
Tsui, Xin, & Egan, 1995). Yet, most studies of age diversity within organizations have focused on top management teams, where age diversity is somewhat limited. Despite the restricted age ranges found in top management teams, there is some support for the predictions made by social identity theory. For example, Knight et al. (1999) found that top management teams with greater age diversity were less likely to engage in agreement-seeking behaviors that could result in reaching strategic consensus. These researchers also found that age diversity was associated with higher levels of interpersonal conflict, although the effect was not statistically significant.
Other studies on top management teams have found significant relationships between age diversity and behavioral outcomes that are assumed to result from conflict, such as turnover (Jackson et al. , 1991 ; Wiersema & Bird, 1993). Pelled, Eisenhardt, and Xin (1999) reported a contradictory finding in their study . In work groups with greater age diversity, employees reported experiencing less emotional conflict. To explain this finding, Pelled, Eisenhardt, and Xin (1999) speculated that individuals belonging to a similar age group may form rivalries and compete for the role of team “leader. ” In summary, as with regard to gender and ethnic diversity, the findings concerning age diversity are not completely consistent. Task-related Diversity and Intra-team Cooperation:
So far the dimensions of diversity that have been discussed are considered relations oriented. Relations-oriented attributes are likely to influence perceptions of in-group and out-group membership in any social setting, even when there is no work task to be performed. By comparison, task-related attributes refer to characteristics that are made salient by the task setting. Two frequently studied task-related attributes are organizational tenure and educational background (Turner & Haslam, 2001). TENURE: Whether due to the implicit knowledge that a person accumulates through experience or to specific on-the-job training, organizational tenure bestows knowledge, skills, and abilities that is job relevant.
Furthermore, employees who enter an organization at about the same time will share similar experiences (Pfeffer, 1983) and may develop similar values and patterns of communication (Wagner, Pfeffer, & O’Reilly, 1984). Tenure diversity has often been assessed in studies of top management team composition, but seldom do such studies directly assess cooperation or conflict. Thus there is scant direct evidence concerning tenure diversity as a predictor of cooperation. Consistent with the predictions of social identity theory, Pelled, Eisenhardt, and Xin (1999) found that teams characterized by greater tenure diversity experience more conflict than teams characterized by less tenure diversity. Knight et al. 1999) also found that tenure diversity was associated with greater interpersonal conflict and less agreement seeking, but in this study the effects of tenure diversity were not statistically significant. EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Like tenure, educational background bestows skills work-related problems. Although substantive differences in perspective may actually be beneficial to the team’s performance on some types of tasks (see Jackson et al. , 1991; Jackson, May, & Whitney, 1995), educational diversity is also likely to stimulate conflict and reduce cooperation. Jehn, Chadwick, and Thatcher (1997) found that that when team members differed in terms of educational background they perceived greater conflict in the group.
In a study of a household goods moving firm, Jehn and her colleagues found that greater informational diversity (which could be created by educational differences) in teams was associated with more task conflict (Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1999). In their study of top management teams, Knight et al. (1999) found that educational diversity was associated with lower levels of strategic consensus. Issues in managing work force diversity: One of the central issues in managing diversity is to do with the majority and the minority perspective. Usually, it is the case in organizations that there is a predominant majority of a particular race or ethnicity and various others in minority groups. And considering that the most pressing issue in managing diversity arises out of the treatment of women, we get a sense of the issues of race and gender as the primary drivers in managing diversity.
In recent times, these issues have come to the forefront of the debate because of greater awareness among the minority groups about their rights as well as stricter enforcement of laws and regulations that govern workplace behaviour Hence, it is in the interest of the management of any firm to sensitize their workforce towards race and gender issues and ensure that the workplace is free of discrimination against minority groups as well as women (Turner & Haslam, 2001). Human Resource Strategies for Managing Diverse work force: The need to adapt human resource systems because of dramatic labor force changes is arising at the same time that many firms are undergoing fundamental changes in the nature of the employment relationship, intense competition, and restructuring into global firms. This represents for redesigning and renewing workplaces.
It is to examine in detail how specific human resource functions need to be modified to support workplace diversity. Employers have started to acknowledge the importance of increasing diversity in the labour force. They have begun to question the effectiveness of human resource systems that were largely designed for a more homogeneous workforce. Although researchers have made suggestions are often general. Scholarly and practical knowledge are still evolving regarding the design and integration of specific human resource policy areas, such as compensation or selection, in support of the managing diversity strategy. Managing Diversity considers the implications of diversity for the development and synthesis of specific human resource policy areas.
The contributors, who are recognized experts in their respective policy areas, provide a range of perspectives on the significance of workforce diversity for the human resource domain and the workplace in general. The degree to which current theory and practice have incorporated issues of diversity management is reviewed, and the authors provide examples of specific sources of diversity among employees, scrutinize the effectiveness of current human resource practices, and suggest approaches for modifying human resource systems to support a managing diversity strategy. The implications of employee diversity for future theory and practice are also reviewed. Approaches of work force diversity Management:
Promoting workplace diversity has many bottom line benefits. Need to approach the hiring process holistically — retaining employees can be more difficult than recruitment. This is especially true for companies in less diverse regions where relocated minority employees may feel disconnected. Need to take a more active role in helping them adjust to the culture at work as well as in their new communities. First, identify what the organisation’s needs are. Does the workforce resemble the communities that the organisation operates in? Do they match the demographic that the organisation serves or wants to serve? If not, develop a hiring strategy to increase workforce diversity.
Talk to local organizations with community connections, including churches, cultural institutions and colleges. They can help the organisation to connect with candidates. The organisation can also enlist help from nonprofits like the Urban League that offer searchable channels of minority job hunters. But don’t limit the organisation to local chapters or schools. If the organisation have something to offer out-of-area workers, expand the organisation’s search to other cities, states or countries. The Internet makes it easy to cast a wide net. Diverse work force management contribute to the development, implementation and review of a diversity strategy to maximise business unit and/or organisational effectiveness Performance Criteria: 1.
A strategy is developed which identifies diversity issues and provides strategies to enhance organisational effectiveness 2. The strategy identifies benefits and opportunities provided by diversity 3. The strategy links diversity with the core business of the business unit, the organisation’ strategic goals and the demographic profile of the client base 4. The strategy is developed in consultation with stakeholders, including people from key equity groups and the organisation’s clients 5. The strategy provides a mechanism through which diversity issues can be integrated within organisational policies and procedures, for example, recruitment and selection 6.
The effectiveness and efficiency of the strategy in achieving business objectives is monitored and reviewed according to its specifications and recommendations for enhancements are identified and acted upon 7. The strategy complies with legislative requirements, and organisational policies and practices 8. The strategy is promoted within the business unit and/or organisation Facilitate the development of a workforce that promotes and values diversity: 1. Benefits of a diverse workforce are identified, modelled and communicated to those working within the business unit and/or the organisation 2. Initiatives and resources to advance the position of equity groups within the organisation or business unit are developed and/or adopted 3.
Individual competencies, styles and qualities are identified and used to address business needs 4. The diversity factors associated with individuals within the business unit are identified and utilised to address business needs 5. Diversity training and awareness programs are utilised, as appropriate, to promote and encourage the benefits of a diverse workforce 6. A range of working styles that are reflective of a diverse workforce are accepted and encouraged 7. Assistance is provided to maximise individual contribution to the attainment of the business unit’s objectives 8. Strategies are applied to resolve grievance and complaints to maximise the benefits obtained through a diverse workforce Guiding Principles:
Managing diversity is defined as “planning and implementing organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimized,” according to Taylor Cox in “Cultural Diversity in Organizations. ” Managing diversity well provides a distinct advantage in an era when flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness. An organization needs to be flexible and adaptable to meet new customer needs. Heterogeneity promotes creativity and heterogeneous groups have been shown to produce better solutions to problems and a higher level of critical analysis. This can be a vital asset at a time when the campus is undergoing tremendous change and self-examination to find new and more effective ways to operate. Effective management of diversity, develops a reputation as an employer of choice.
Not only will you have the ability to attract the best talent from a shrinking labour pool, save time and money in recruitment and turnover costs. The campus will fulfil its role as a public institution by reflecting the diversity of the organisation as well as meeting the increasing demand to provide informed services to an increasingly diverse customer base. CHAPTER II: Review of literature: Diversity = all aspects in which people differ * Diversity refers to the differences between individuals. People differ on all kinds of aspects, both visible and non-visible. Examples of differences are gender, age, sexual preferences, skills, tenure, learning styles etc.
We find these differences in every workplace, though not all differences are always recognised or seen as relevant. Differences between people influence how they behave, feel, do and are perceived. Of course these differences also influence the way people work. Taking these differences into account helps organisations to make optimal use of all capacities and capabilities in their workforce, and thus has a positive influence on both the quality and amount of work that gets done. This is the basic goal of Diversity Management. Diversity Management: all activities in an organisation aimed at dealing with, and making optimal use of, the diversity in its labour force. Diversity Management is a comprehensive managerial process for developing an environment that works for all employees. It encourages managers to enable, empower and influence employees to reach their full potential. It ensures that organisational systems, policies and practices do not benefit one group more than another. The idea of inclusiveness is central to Diversity Management and it addresses workplace behaviours and understanding differences while focusing on an organisation’s culture and climate. Managing diversity in the workplace enables organisations to better serve their customers and clients because it gleans a better understanding of their needs.
Differences between workers have been shown to influence many areas of the workplace relationship. These have affected exchanges between managers and employees (Green, Anderson & Shivers 1996) and within work groups (Riordan & Shore 1997). Compared to homogenous teams, heterogeneous teams experience lower cohesion (O’Reilly, Caldwell & Barnett 1989) and greater disagreements and tension arising from conflict (Pelled 1996, Pelled, Eisenhardt & Xin 1999). Members communicate less frequently and more formally within the team (Smith, Smith, Olian, Sims, O’Bannon & Scully 1994), while preferring to communicate more often with external individuals (Zenger & Lawrence 1989).
Further, some diverse teams have the benefit of better decision making (Jackson 1992) from a wider selection of alternative solutions (Cady & Valentine 1999). However, the effect of performance has largely been negative (Greenhaus, Parasuranman & Wormley 1990). Differences in demographic variables have also been demonstrated to increase turnover, role stress, and lower job satisfaction In this review, two issues were highlighted: (a) the importance of the substantial research on inequality to an adequate understanding of workforce diversity and (b) the need to link discussions of workforce diversity to the structural relationships among groups within the society.
Organize the review in terms of three dimensions of the relationships among groups: power, status, and numbers (or composition). Highlight research from sociology, psychology, and management and show similarities and gaps across these fields. (Tsui & O’Reilly 1989, Riordan & Shore 1997). Because of the extent of the effects arising from differences in the workplace, it is important to understand the foundations that underscore these findings. A number of implicit social relations theories underpin the research in workplace diversity. They function to explain the cognitive processes that individuals use to determine how they relate to each other and to their context. However, each theory only explains part of the picture.
While many researchers have applied the various foundation theories in isolation, there has been some attempt to apply them in clusters of various combinations (e. g. , Tsui, Egan & O’Reilly 1992, Riordan 2000). Given that workforce diversity is very much context driven and multiple theories have been applied, why have researchers sought to apply only one or a cluster of theories at a time? Essentially, the assumption underlying the application of such theories, within the context of explaining the interactions amongst workers who differ from each other, has been one of parsimony. It has long been recognised that the pursuit of parsimony is necessary (Kilmann 1983). Without parsimony theories tend to expand out of control.
However, an excess of parsimony may produce tautology, explain the obvious, or reduce complex human interactions to inflexible abstractions (North & Willard 1983). Paradoxically, the more researchers focus on the disjointed parts of reality, the less researchers may know about the whole (North & Willard 1983). Therefore, by only applying one theory or a cluster of theories and concepts, the need to draw linkages between these have been rendered unnecessary. Of the implicit social relations theories that have been applied, there are ten theories and concepts that are most often cited in workforce diversity research. This paper seeks to weave together these theories to explain the foundation processes.
This will demonstrate that when combined these theories reinforce, as well as complement, each other to provide a comprehensive understanding of the variety of perspectives, orientations, and emphases in the foundations of diversity research (Hogg & Terry 2000). The aim of this manuscript is to provide a holistic explanation of these forces at work. To achieve this overarching aim, first, this paper groups the foundation theories of diversity research into three divisions. The social theories relate to identity, categorisation, and comparison. The interaction frameworks include the similarity attraction paradigm, person environment fit, tokenism, and the contact hypothesis. Finally, heuristics refer to bias, prejudice, and stereotypes.
All are cognitive based and context specific. The premises of these are briefly explained, highlighting three recurring themes in the following sections. Furthermore, this paper identifies where these theories and concepts overlap and differ including a discussion of the boundary conditions arising from this foundations framework. Finally, the practical implications for human resource managers are discussed. Social Theories The social theories of identity, categorisation, and comparison are self contained units with different emphases. However, they are not mutually exclusive. When combined they complement each other to the extent that they are proximally intertwined.
These three social theories, which are outlined in the foundations framework for behaviour in diverse settings, are shown as Figure 1. Social theories have dominated the research literature studying diversity in organisations, particularly the theory of social identity. Identity operates as a social construct, rather than at an individual level (Foldy 2001). Based on symbolic interactionism, it recognises that people collectively create the reality in which they live by identifying symbolically with certain categories. According to the social identity and categorisation theories, individuals tend to classify themselves and others into various social categories (Tajfel & Turner 1985).
Individuals define, describe, and evaluate themselves in terms of social categories and apply the norms of conduct of the ingroup onto themselves (Hogg 1987). Therefore, they attach meanings to objects arising from social interaction, and perceive the fate of the group as their own (Ashforth & Mael 1989). Based on observation and inference they are subject to change and modification, and assist individuals to determine what behaviours and responses are appropriate during exchanges. Figure 1 A Framework of the Foundations of Individual Behaviour in a Diverse Workforce Fundamental to these theories is an individual’s awareness of the self and others. Social comparison draws on social cognition in the context of individual differences (Buunk & Gibbons 2007).
This theory recognises that individuals are driven to compare themselves to similar others or to those slightly better on relevant dimensions (Abrams & Hogg 1990). They often choose to compare themselves with those perceived to be better, in the desire and belief they belong to the same category. The association between self evaluation affiliation choices has implications for problem solving and emotional regulation (Exline & Lobel 1997). This is particularly relevant because social identity becomes important where the category includes the individual since it holds a degree of emotional and value significance. These social classifications are relevant for two reasons.
On the cognitive level, social categorisations are used to order the social environment in groupings of people, which are assigned to the individual (Tajfel 1978). It provides order by assigning prototypical features of the category (e. g. , stereotyping). Categorisation provides the individual with a systematic way of defining others. However, stereotypes are not necessarily reliable for predetermining behaviour (Oakes, Haslam & Turner 1994). The second reason is that they allow the individual to define him or herself within the social environment as opposed to being separate from the social context (Ashforth & Mael 1989). Individuals can develop a perception of oneness with the group.
Thus, social theories explain the components of identity, categorisation, and comparison, which together assist in driving exchanges between individuals within the interaction frameworks. Interaction Frameworks Four common interaction frameworks explain behaviour related to diversity. Separately, they are the similarity attraction paradigm, tokenism, person environmental fit, and the contact hypothesis. These notions are expressed in Figure 1. Similarity attraction occupies a central position in the social theories. However, it differs in its focus on the interpersonal level, compared to the social theories operating at the group level (Turner 1985, Hogg & Hains 1996).
The premise of the similarity attraction paradigm is that high order attraction is based on the individual’s need to evaluate himself or herself for similarity of features, such as abilities, attitudes, values, opinions, and experiences (e. g. , Baskett 1973). The possession of similar characteristics encourages attraction where they are observable and/or valued by those within the interaction (Newcomb 1956), since behaviour becomes more predictable validating an individual’s beliefs and attitudes (Thibaut & Kelley 1959). In contrast, divergent attributes will lower attraction (Festinger 1954). Consequently, individuals would be more likely to direct their networking strategies to those sharing similar attributes (Galaskiewicz & Shatin 1981). This effect of similarity attraction has also been found for the tokenism hypothesis.
The tokenism hypothesis argues that when individuals differ demographically from those around them, they become highly visible (Kanter 1977). Visibility can present a negative environment for the token individual, such as minority females (Spangler, Gordon & Pipkin 1978). Kanter defines the token individual as representing 15 per cent or less of the total work group. This visibility reduces the individual’s privacy and personal space since he or she becomes intensely observed compared to the demographic majority. Minorities have been found to experience poorer attitudes and individual performance compared to their majority counterparts as members encounter greater dissimilarity with their work group members than similarity (Spangler, et al. 1978).
Person environment fit encapsulates the fit between the person with the organisation’s workforce or the group. The framework argues for a level of congruence between two entities, to match elements, such as demographic characteristics and/or the norms and values, of one with those of elements of the environment (Edwards, Cabe, Williamson, Lambert & Shipp 2006). This follows the same premise as the similarity attraction paradigm. The level of fit between the individual with others in his or her organisation in terms of diversity characteristics, such as age and gender, will influence how they interact and relate to each other (Edwards, et al. 2006).
Therefore, this fit can arise from pre existing individual dispositions prior to organisational entry or organisational membership can mould an individual’s values (e. g. , Lievens, Decaesteker, Coetsier & Geirnaert 2001, Parkes, Bochner & Schneider 2001). The contact hypothesis argues that greater interaction between individuals provide opportunities to discover more similarity rather than difference (Kanter 1977). Greater knowledge through communication encourages mutual understanding, liking, and acceptance of dissimilar others (Tsui & O’Reilly 1989). Further, inter group relations become enhanced if the outgroup member’s characteristics refute the existing outgroup stereotype (Tsui & Gutek 1999), thus enabling perceptual adjustment.
Therefore, favourable conditions are essential for accurate information exchange. The counter argument to the contact hypothesis is that greater interaction can accentuate negative stereotypes and perceptual distortions, such as prejudice and ethnocentrism (Miller & Brewer 1984, Gudykunst 1987). These act to reinforce inter group hostility and competition (Nelson 1989), which is more likely when the diversity climate is not positive. For example, it has been found that when the proportion of racial minorities was increased in the organisation, informal communication between the minority and majority groups decreased (Hoffman 1985). Heuristics
Stereotypes, prejudice and bias are the result of demands to process vast quantities of information. Essentially, the categorisations from attributes, such as demographic characteristics (Falkenberg 1990), are often based on perceived stereotypes. Individuals manage their limited capacity for cognitive processing by deriving stereotypes as a heuristic, or rule of thumb (Fiske & Taylor 1991). Therefore, stereotypes are often used to define group membership and to predict behaviour. Scenarios where the stereotyping is supported enables the perceiver to direct attention elsewhere, whereas discrepancies force the perceiver to form an appropriate impression by assessing each piece of information.
Consequently, using stereotypes can lead to inaccurate assessments (Hilton & von Hippel 1996). While stereotypes may hold true for many within a particularly category, this does not hold true for all members. While stereotyping is neutral (Falkenberg 1990), prejudice is negative. It differs from stereotypes in that it remains static despite the presence of new information showing the stereotype to be incorrect (Ivancevich, Olekalns & Matteson 1997). This resistance stems from an individual’s desire to avoid internal conflicts and inner insecurities (Katz 1960). For example, false correlations are sometimes made between language ability and accented speech with intelligence (Dovodio & Gaertner 1991).
By rejecting the identity of the accented speaker, that is, his or her race, ethnic heritage, national origin, regional affiliation, or economic class (Lippi-Green 1994, Vrij & Winkel 1994), has the potential to evoke responses that are directly due to a prejudice (Ryan 1983), and seriously affect team interactions (Adler 1986). Separate from, but related to stereotyping, is perceptual bias. Perception is often regarded as objective, stable, and homogeneous across individuals (Glazer 1984). However, social psychologists and information processing researchers have identified that perceptions are non objective, error prone, and highly individual specific. Perceptual bias occurs when there is a distortion in the information processing which allows for the preference of one group or attribute over another. For example, the concept of creating a positive social identity (to be discussed later) is based on ingroup outgroup bias and group serving bias.
Ingroup outgroup bias is the tendency to view the ingroup, its members, and products more positively than other groups, their members and products. Group serving bias is the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to the group and its members, but negative outcomes to external factors (Forsyth 1999). Not surprisingly, bias serves a similar purpose to stereotyping and prejudice where it is used to enhance self worth and esteem (Forsyth 1999). Further, similar and dissimilar members within the same group can be driven by these biases because of the desire to fulfill social needs. Perceptual bias has the potential to impact on the group’s performance, such as a reduction in the creativity (Dewett 2004). Common Themes of the Foundation Theories
While the deficiencies in each of these foundations to fully explain cognitive processing for diversity may be overcome through the consideration of the combination of these ten phenomena, four themes thread through the aforementioned foundations. The first is the notion of self concept. It is fundamental to the social theories, and to a lesser degree the interaction frameworks. The self concept is “…the system of concepts available to a person in attempting to define himself or herself. ” (Gergen 1971: 23). This incorporates the attitudes, beliefs, intentions, norms, roles, and values of the collective self, which refers to identity groupings, such as the organisation and the work team. Therefore, multiple dimensions make up an individual’s self concept (Tajfel 1978).
The meaning that an individual attaches to the group membership affects how he or she will interact with others within the identity group and with those from other groups (Tajfel 1978). This contention supports the general notion of person environment fit, which recognises that individuals select environments based on the fit with their self concepts (O’Reilly, Chatman & Caldwell 1991). Where a match exists, this dimension operates to reinforce the individual’s identity allowing him or her to enjoy positive affectivity and comfort. The self concept is also central to the heuristics that an individual holds. The formulation of one’s self concept often includes ethnicity.
Ethnic identity arises when an individual identifies oneself within a particular ethnic group, and feels comfortable being labelled by others into that group. However, this identity is often complicated by issues of discrimination and pressures to assimilate (Bernal, Saenz & Knight 1991, Phinney 1991). When an individual identifies oneself with a minority ethnicity, such stigmatised groups tend to display higher self esteem compared to those of non stigmatised groups (Crocker & Major 1989, Porter & Washington 1993). The heightened loyalty to the minority status of their ethnicity in ones self concept positively relates to perceptions of stereotypes (Niemann, Jennings, Rozell, Baxter & Sullivan 1994).
These stigmatised group attribute their disadvantage to prejudice in society (Lorenzo-Hernandez & Oullette 1998). The second notion these foundations share is the salience of social categories. It is defined as the prominence of an individual’s group membership, such as a demographic category, in a particular context which influences the perception, behaviour, and influence of another person’s identity as a group member (Oakes 1987, Randel 2002). Because an individual often belongs to multiple categories, which make up the self concept, and the social identity is relational in nature, categories can sometimes contradict themselves, making their relevance situation specific.
During an interaction, a particular category may become more important to the individual, whereby it will ‘switch on’, implying an adaptive function of social identity. The salience of a category is essential for the interaction frameworks and can enhance perceptions of heuristics. Within a given context, the salient category will assist the individual determine the level of similarity and attraction to others and help to establish person environment fit. Visibility of a category, such as gender, can enhance salience to create a negative environment for the token (Spangler, et al. 1978). This negative environment may arise due to the presence of stereotypes, prejudice and bias.
In addition, an individual is thought to select the salient characteristic for contexts where it will be favourably evaluated (Alexander & Knight 1971). This third theme, the issue of positive social identity, recognises that individuals are motivated to seek differentiation of their own group from others to achieve positive distinctiveness (Hogg & Abrams 1988). This relates to the original reason for joining the group, the desire to achieve needs satisfaction, to reach goals, and for the validation of attitudes and values. To satisfy these needs, individuals make social comparisons by maximising the distinctiveness between groups, and accentuating the similarities within the group.
According to the contact hypothesis, individuals would engage in greater interaction within their groups to accentuate similarities (Kanter 1977), and such comparisons may draw on heuristics. This selective differentiation boosts self esteem, enhances self worth, and increases an individual’s sense of well being (Hogg & Abrams 1988). It follows then, that mutual attraction and esteem flow directly from these motives for positive self esteem linked to the particular social identification (Turner 1984). These theoretical foundations also suggest that familiarity, the fourth theme, is an underlying motivator. Individuals are attracted to similar others based on the expectation that they would display similar attitudes, behaviours, cognitive processing, and have similar experiences.
This ability to describe, predict and explain another individual allows the individual to make inferences based on the understanding of a particular category. Therefore, the extent of familiarity is used to categorise others. However, individuals cannot be familiar with all categories. The inference of differences suggests uncertainty. This influences categorisation of others into categories other than their own. While explanation furthers understanding, understanding exists opposite to uncertainty (Gudykunst 1987). Unfamiliarity can accentuate perceptions of poor fit and reduce the extent of contact between groups. The lowered levels of interaction can heighten negative stereotypes and perceptual distortions, such as prejudice and ethnocentrism (Miller & Brewer 1984, Gudykunst 1987).
Further, unfamiliarity affects communication because of linguistic differences, the lack of knowledge about socially appropriate responses, and there is a perceived lack of shared similarities (Berger 1986). Therefore, the extent of familiarity helps to understand how individuals are categorised. It is important to several of the foundation theories, such as the contact hypothesis, similarityattraction, and stereotyping, because it influences interaction among the different categories. Fundamental Overlaps and Boundaries Framework Between the three divisions of the foundation theories there are several fundamental overlaps containing contractions that limit the framework. First, all theories and frameworks are essentially group based. They refer to belonging to various group categories and their interactions with others in-groups.
This is particularly important for workforce diversity research since the concept of diversity is relationally based. Differences amongst individuals cannot exist in isolation, but must be in relation to others, such as in groups. While categorization can operate at the individual level as in the self categorization theory (Hogg 1987, Oakes 1987, Jetton, Spears & Manstead 1996), whereby perception is depersonalized and the individual is regarded as an embodiment of the contextually salient group prototype (Hogg & Hains 1996), the theories of social categorisation, along with identity and comparison, refer to an inter group perspective on group membership.
This analysis of groups is regarded as incomplete without acknowledging that in groups cannot exist without outgroups (Hogg & Abrams 1988, Tajfel 1978). The exception to this group notion is the similarity attraction paradigm, which operates at the interpersonal level (Newcomb 1956). While an individual can belong to various group categories, the interactions based on similarity and attraction is between other individuals, not a group. However, Hogg and Hains (1996) proposed an inter group extension of Hogg’s (1992) social attraction hypothesis, finding that attraction can also operate at the group level. Positive inter group attitude produced the social attraction whereby ingroup members are liked not as unique individuals, but as embodiments of the group (Hogg & Hains 1996).
They demonstrated that objective inter group status relations affected subjective social beliefs, which then influenced identification (Ellemers, Wilke, & van Knippenberg 1993). It is this identification that directly influences depersonalised social attraction (Hogg & Hains 1996). Second, the social theories and heuristics make assumptions about categorised groups. Social theories are used to understand the surrounding reality by dividing up the world in an easily digestible manner. In particular, social identity theory is a general theory of the social group that is intended to be relevant to the analysis of large scale social categories, such as ethnic groups, as well as to small interactive groups, such as sports teams (e. g. , Turner 1985, Hogg & Abrams 1988).
By classifying an individual into a particular group with an exhibited dimension, assumptions are made about behaviour, attitudes and values. Heuristics operate in a similar fashion. These cues act as short cuts to information processing where individuals make assumptions about groups with an observable attribute. While the interaction frameworks similarly make assumptions about categorised groups, there are some distinctions that limit the overlap across the theories. The person environment fit and similarity attraction paradigm differ slightly in their implicit outcome focus on comfort arising from congruence, rather than on familiarity for the social theories.
In contrast, the contact hypothesis differs markedly as it concentrates on providing interaction opportunities to discover similarity or difference beyond the basic social categories. Research on inter group contact focuses on the effect of inter group relations on inter group attitudes and stereotypes (e. g. , Miller & Brown 1984, Johnston & Hewstone 1990). This hypothesis encourages positive interactions, unlike the social theories and heuristics, which tend to focus on instantaneously categorising and forming assumptions often leading to negative interactions. Third, all the foundation theories are concerned with the perception and relationship to another group.
While a relational component exists, differences arise in several ways which limit this theoretical foundations framework. First, there is the type of relationship between groups. For example, the social theories focus on grouping according to categories to evaluate the importance or relevance of the categories to the individual’s identity, while the contact hypothesis concentrates on the interaction between two groups to encourage information exchange. Second, the relationship can differ in terms of the levels of groups for comparison. For example, the person environment fit is concerned with determining congruence between an individual and the group context.
Third, the relationship between groups can be determined by the response to the different group. Heuristics are very much perceptually based. While stereotypes, prejudice, and bias may arise from experience, when they are applied they act to influence the behaviour and quality of exchange within a given context. The tokenism hypothesis relies on heuristics, since research has shown that the token individual becomes more visible and experiences less privacy and personal space. The ten theories and concepts included in this foundations framework are not all encapsulating to explain the cognitive processes at work during interactions within a diverse workforce, which then limits its usefulness as a holistic framework.
These ten theories and concepts were chosen as they were popularly applied in workforce diversity studies to provide a more cogent explanation. However, while the foundations framework is acknowledged to lack totality, it has attempted to weave together a significant collection of relevant theories in the field. Previous researchers have sought to apply these individually or as a cluster for the sake of parsimony. Drawing on this same argument, an element of parsimony was still required to ensure digestibility of the foundations framework. Researchers of workforce diversity recognise that this field of study is context driven (e. g. , Jackson & Joshi 2004). The notion of salience acknowledges that particular categories become switched on in different contexts. A major imitation of this integration framework is that it is not generalisable, particularly across all organisational contexts (Johns 2001), which may exert unique determining factors on the variables in each study (e. g. , West & Anderson 1996, Hurley & Hult 1998). Practical Implications of the Foundations Framework There are several important implications arising from these conclusions. The relative closeness of countries in the Asia Pacific has aided immigration across borders to the extent that workforce diversity is keenly felt within organisations in this region. For example, Australia provides an unique population with which to understand the role of diversity in the workplace.
Unusual characteristics include three in every ten Australians were born overseas representing up to 50 countries (ABS 2006). While the dominant presence is of an Anglo Celtic colonial past, waves of immigration from around the world have established large Italian, Greek, and Asian communities. Further, a history of racially discriminatory policies, such as the White Australia Policy and the forcible separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, commonly referred to as the Stolen Generation, contribute to the racial climate. Finally, while Australia belongs to the Asia Pacific region geographic isolation separates it from its surrounding Asian neighbours, and other dominant Anglo nations.
Consequently, Australia’s extensive multiculturalism would create several important practical implications for the workplace. Heuristics such as stereotypes, bias and prejudice can influence how people interact and regard each other. For example, stereotyping has been found to affect job applicant evaluations of women (Dipboye, Fromkin & Wiback 1975), racial minorities (Parsons & Liden 1984), and older workers (Singer & Sewell 1989) compared to similarly qualified white males. They can restrict communication patterns, which can further reinforce stereotypical communication (Hewstone & Giles 1986). In particular, this has practical implications for decision making in organisations, such as for recruitment and selection.
Research has demonstrated that recruitment and selection procedures are subject to bias arising from employing those that are similar to the recruiter (Jackson, Brett, Sessa, Cooper, Julin & Peyronnin 1991). Organisations will need to train managers to become aware of and navigate through the presence of heuristics, bias, and prejudice in their decision making. While organisations will maintain that their human resource decisions are objective and that they strictly adhere to their anti discrimination policies and the country’s law, research has consistently demonstrated the role of these information processing short cuts in these contexts (Canny 2004, Vazquez-Cupeiro & Elston 2006). Process losses arising from poor communications can arise in multicultural contexts.
Language differences and accented speech are common barriers to communication in the Asia Pacific region. While English is predominantly spoken by 79 per cent of the Australian population, there are over 60 other languages spoken in this country (ABS 2006). The most common languages in Australia other than English are Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic, and Mandarin (ABS 2006). Language and accent barriers can affect understanding resulting in poor quality of member exchanges, and consequently, information loss. This can partly be explained by team members feeling compelled to communicate less frequently because they may not feel confident about their communication skills.
Some individuals who are not native speakers of English may feel that they are not fully articulate and feel embarrassed about their accent, which clearly marks them as different from others in the workplace. This could have a detrimental effect on their psychological safety and limit their desire to fully participate in team activities such as suggesting solutions to problems. Multicultural work groups have been found to suffer from the inability to communicate and lack of cohesion (Adler 1986). Language and accent barriers can also affect the perceived relative status of the employee, and the intelligence and ability of the employee to perform the job, which further contribute to discrimination.
There is a need to recognise the difficulties encountered in diverse cultural environments (Horan 1976). Research has shown that providing intercultural communication training to staff can improve intercultural and diversity awareness (Krapels & Davis 2000). Therefore, managers and staff are likely to benefit from training which facilitates more effective and productive communications in day to day exchanges with special focus on diversity issues. The extent of communication