Diversity Management - Cultural Issues

Term Paper 2007 13 Pages

Psychology - Work, Business, Organisational and Economic Psychology



1 Introduction

2 Definitions and specifications
2.1 Definitions of “culture“
2.2 Specification of Diversity Management

3 The influence of culture on human resource - recruitment
3.1 Culture as an influencing factor of national differences in selection practices?
3.2 Impact on acceptance of recruitment processes
3.2.1 Impact on desirability of job attributes
3.2.2 Impact on recruitment sources
3.2.3 Influence of values on job specifications
3.3 Impact on effectiveness of recruitment processes
3.3.1 Impact of values on effectiveness and design of the selection process
3.3.2 Influence of values on reactions to selection processes

4 Conclusion

1 Introduction

As a result of the advanced globalization, organizations increasingly operate in international and global markets. They cooperate with companies from all over the world and employees of different nationality are engaged. More and more people live and work in foreign countries. Between organizations, multinational corporations are becoming commonplace (Bhadury et al., 2001, cited by Seymen, 2006). Consequently, they have to deal with a wide range of diversity: different values, cultures, customs, lifestyle and manners encounter.

Also the growing level of domestic diversity is a reason for increasing cultural diversity (Stone, Stone-Romero, Lukaszewski, 2007). Essentially the United States are concerned, but also European countries. In the U.S. there are over 84 million members of the four primary minority groups like African-, Hispanic-, Asian- and Native-Americans. Another factor of increasing diversity is the rising immigration rate and the higher birth rates among ethnic minority groups (Stone et al., 2007).

Definitely, lots of advantages result of the above mentioned developments. Globalization has enabled transnational business and the communication all over the world has been extremely simplified. Markets for services and products have grown – the lack of boarders offers a lot of opportunities and flexibility. A high number of researchers argue that multiculturalism offers also benefits inside organizations. It is empirically proven that employees in multicultural organizations are more creative and have improved decision-making results (Adler, 1983, cited by Stone et al., 2007).

Anyway, with those developments occur some conditions, which cannot be ignored. The organizations have to challenge the improvement and the management of people on a global scale. This implicates some difficulties like matters of motivation, leadership, productivity and authority (Higgs, 1996, cited by Seymen, 2006). Researchers state, that while focussing on the positive effects of multiculturalism, its critical role in a high number of organizational processes has not been considered enough (Erez, 1994, cited by Stone et al., 2007). But there is no doubt that culture has impacts on diverse organizational processes.

This paper shows some in the literature existing understandings of the construct “culture” and a brief explanation of the understanding of Diversity Management. A study is presented, which reveals that culture is one influencing factor of differences in cross-national selection processes. Furthermore, different processes of human resource practices, especially recruitment processes, are focused in this essay. Clearly, human resources are an area on which the impact of multiculturalism is particularly strong. Described are research results about the impact of culture issues on the acceptance of recruitment processes and the differences in their effectiveness, which are caused by cultural diversities. A study about the variances in staffing practices due to nation and culture are presented briefly. Indeed there is not one correct and unique method to manage the cultural diversity and its effects on organizational processes, but there are some approaches for effective cultural diversity management identified in the literature and some of them are presented here.

2 Definitions and specifications

2.1 Definitions of “culture“

The term “culture” is linked to lots of associations. For considering the impact of culture on organizations, their processes and management systems, it is crucial to give some definitions and common understandings about the concept. The literature shows a high number of uses and definitions which of course slightly vary depending of their field of application. For example, to some authors, culture is defined as “the whole of assets composed of total moral features of society, emotions and thread of mind, of all sorts of life, thought and art in the state of tradition” (Yilmaz, 1983, cited by Seymen, 2006, p. 299). A little more detailed is the understanding of culture of Lavaty & Kleiner (2001, p. 46), who describe it as “our routine of sleeping, bathing, dressing, eating and getting to work. It is our household chores and actions we perform on the job, the way we buy goods and services. The way we greet friends or address a stranger and even to a large extent what we consider right or wrong”. This description comes along with the definition of Triandis (1996, cited by Stone et al., 2007), who states, that culture consists of shared meaning systems that provide the standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, communicating, and acting among those who share a language, a historic period, and a geographic location. Chiu & Chen (2004, p.173) have a more economical view on culture as “a network of knowledge that is produced, distributed, and reproduced among a collection of interconnected people” and is transmitted through language, media messages, cultural practices and institutions, and through the modeling of behavior. Some theorists see culture as a common meaning which the members share (Seymen, 2006). In other definitions, the aspect of diversity in attitudes between the cultures is added (Smith et al., 2002, cited by Seymen, 2006).

The different concepts of culture, depending on the field of application (e.g. Sociology, Anthropology, Economy) are divided into three dimensions: The notion of system, the integrated type of custom and the distinction between materialistic or objective culture, like technology, science, art, etc., and ideational or subjective culture which means beliefs, ideas, moral and so on (Seymen, 2006).

All these explanations and definitions reveal the term culture as very complex and nearly impossible to operationalize in one unique definition. But for sure, culture is an important part of the personality – without culture, there would be just a biological entity (Markus & Kitayama, 1998, cited by Benet-Martinez, 2006).

2.2 Specification of Diversity Management

The increasing diversity and heterogeneity in the workforce has led to a new management style – Diversity Management. The target of an effective management of cultural diversity is not to lose productivity and competitiveness. These targets shall be realized through creating a positive and productive working atmosphere within the organization, to anticipate discrimination of minorities and to improve equality of opportunities. However, Diversity Management is not only a new management direction to improve profits, but to create a working clime where employees feel comfortable and integrated, what is an assumption for optimal performance. Until the late 90s, Diversity Management implicated basically the integration of minorities, thus the compliance and realisation of certain instructions of anti-discrimination. But in the last years, the understanding of Diversity Management is beyond: it means a change in the culture of the organization and consciousness for the uniqueness of every individual (Stuber, 2004). Cox (1993, p. 11) defines Diversity Management 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”.

Ely & Thomas (2001) identified three paradigms in their typology of Diversity Management. The “discrimination-and-fairness-paradigm” implicates the achievement of equal opportunity, fair treatment and social justice. The fundamental attitude is that it is not desirable for the diversification of the workforce to influence the organization’s work or culture. The company should operate as if every person were of same race, gender, and nationality. For measuring the degree of goal-achievement, the employment rate is named as possibility. The “access-and-legitimacy paradigm” states the workforce diversity as competitive factor. The demographic structure of clients is imitated in the company – that a better understanding and service can be provided. The “learning-and-effectiveness paradigm” is the paradigm which focuses most the advantages the organization can get through multiculturalism and diversity. It states a learning effect for the whole organization, thanks to the different ways and manners of task management, job design and problem solving.



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Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg
Diversity Management Cultural Issues



Title: Diversity Management - Cultural Issues