Cultural Diversity Management: Literature Review

2021-06-18 05:02:38
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University of Richmond
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Literature review
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Byrd (2014) describes diversity to be differences that accrue from the peoples variations in aspects such as cultural and social beliefs, countries of origin, religious opinions, working values, and customs. Diversity is advantageous to the present-day organizations as reflected by the increasing needs of firms to leverage its benefits particularly in the age when globalization and internationalization are the only solutions for stunted business growth (Byrd, 2014). Improving workplace diversity is an essential factor towards management in the current times considering the implications of a changing work environment (Dike, 2013). Globalization has resulted in the expansion of businesses to new markets with risks and uncertainties in issues such as cultural difference (Henry & Evans, 2007). However, enterprises that embrace workplace diversity have a higher tendency of overcoming culture shock during its expansions (Kreitz, 2007). The problems posed by new markets include gathering data on the laws and regulations in a foreign destination, assessing risks, and determining customer preferences among others (Martin, 2014). Companies that have a diverse workforce can thereby capitalize on the knowledge of individual employees to achieve their objective and overcome the emerging challenges (Dike, 2013). Almost all organizations operating in the global marketplace are currently experiencing fierce competition. One of the ways of counteracting the competition is through diversity management which Cennamo and Gardner (2008) recommend as a necessity for business growth in the modern business society. Therefore, Ameer and Othman (2012) applauds that business companies must adopt cultural diversity as HRM practice if they must maintain their relevance in the global market.

The problem resulting in the management of diversity by many organizations compels managers to learn management skills that are required in a multicultural workplace and hence preparing themselves to enlighten others to appreciate cultural differences and consider all employees as equal (Greenberg, 2013). Almost all the previous studies by researchers such as that conducted by Choy (2007) in Singapore shows a joint agreement that cultural diversity bring more benefits and good than harm to organizations. Furthermore, Cennamo and Gardner (2008) says that the increasing rate of internationalization of ventures and globalization are the indicators showing the appreciation of interaction of workers from different nations, education backgrounds, ethnicities, races, personalities, and genders. Therefore, it is evident that Colgan, Creegan, McKearney, and Wrights (2007) proposition that the global workforce is currently culturally diverse than any other century hold some truth. Cultural diversity has a close relationship with workforce effectiveness, sustainability, productivity and creativity (Cross & White, 1996).

It is not always the case in all studies as Richard et al. (2003) and Cox (1994) attribute cultural diversity to negative issues arising in workplaces. Richard et al. (2003), for instance, says that as a result of diversity among workers, organizations are susceptible to adverse situations such as employees disagreeing, misunderstanding and disputing each other. Therefore, Richards (2003) study seems to assert that having employees from diverse origins, genders and with differing work values increases the chances of workforce combinations hence fostering different norms, working cultures, different work ethics, custom, thoughts, ideologies, and views. Most researchers refute the proposition saying that diversity is beneficial citing the contemporary cases of discrimination and selective employment of employees to lock out individuals from a different culture, races and linguistic backgrounds (Gardenswartz, 2009). Harrison, Price, and Bell (1998) for instance despite appreciating the significance of cultural diversity in business companies, cite series of problems that comes with workforce diversity. The outline of the issues facing the promotion of workforce diversity includes bias within HR systems of firms, intergroup conflicts, and stereotypic perspectives. Furthermore, developing nations that present viable markets for international business have significant levels of unemployment and their governments may not fancy the importation of labor (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998). Subsequent research by Thomas (1990) says that the achievement of workforce diversity is expensive due to the difference in economic conditions and strengths of currencies which are the two factors that hinder the interaction of people internationally. Stahl, Maznevski, Voigt, and Jonsen (2012) cite some cases such as when difficulties in choosing individuals to promote among different employees because some employee will perceive to be inferior to those benefiting from promotion and reward schemes. Simons and Rowland (2011), on the other hand, suggest that the interaction of people from different backgrounds can lead to others seeing themselves as unimportant since issues such as some cultures still exercise discrimination and racism. Diverse views, social values, working principles, cultures, traditions, and customs can lower job satisfaction and consequently work effectiveness (Cox, 1994). A study by Kelepile (2015) in one of Botswanas diamond producing firm shows the case by which recently researchers offer their arguments opposing the concept of cultural diversity. The study suggests that improved productivity is almost impossible to copy cultural traits of another group of workers by another team hence cannot be a source of productivity and sustainability. Researchers such as Simons and Rowland (2011) also seem to refute the resource-based perspective that organizational sustainability is reliant on rarity and values of the resultant corporate culture.

The first reason companies adopt cultural diversity is innovation. Firms can nurture and develop individual talents towards achieving maximum output. Various organizations embrace diversity measures at their workplaces to be more innovative and open towards the dynamics of change (Vo, 2014). The advances in technology and the growth of the global economy is the essential reason that people of different cultures come together (Bedi & Lakra, 2014). Due to the rising diversities, businesses and other institutions are continually investigating better ways of serving their constituents by being able to attract and retain high-quality talent from the diverse cultures (Aoun & Gibeily, 2007). By overlooking the need for diversity in the workplace, a company suffers the adverse effects of bearing an employee team whose members can reason from the same perspective hence unable to provide alternative solutions to underlying problems (Henry & Evans, 2007). Amalgamation of a diverse workforce sets the stage for innovation considering that different ideas can be compared resulting in better approaches and the birth of other new ones (Martin, 2014). Diversity in the workplace is a recipe for uniting individual strengths to the benefit of the enterprise since skills and strengths possessed by various members are combined to achieve greater innovation which increases productivity and performance (Bedi & Lakra, 2014). According to Kim (2005), most of the highly performing business firms have a group of employees with different characteristics whom they maximize the various talents and abilities. For example, it is possible to acquire marketing advantages while utilizing culturally different employees than when using marketing teams whose members are homogenous in aspects such as experiences, cultural values, education and beliefs (Martin, 2014). The innovation perception of the marketplace on a company that promotes diversity and inclusive production environments is better considering that its openness towards modernizations appeals to open minded workers on the new generation (US Department of Commerce, 2013). Emphasis on an individuals output rather than socio-economic backgrounds by organizations is found to attract high-quality talent from a diverse culture and expertise (Weiliang, Mun, & Yuan, 2011).

Todays management is charged with the responsibility of leading workers and attending to the needs of the clients who are also more culturally and ethnically diverse thus placing more attention on diversity management (Green et al. 2008). Whether organizations have an objective of being a preferred employer or becoming an excellent service provider through maintaining competitiveness, it is necessary to recognize and appreciate diversity as an essential organizational resource (US Department of Commerce, 2013). It is the role of the management within an organization to ensure successful implementation of diversity policies. In addition to treating all workers alike despite the differences, diversity management enhances employee retention thus resulting in greater productivity (Sharma, 2016). An essential aspect of diversity management is to address discriminations based on age, gender, education, and ethnicity among others which may have an adverse impact on the productivity of the organization (Martin, 2014). Poorly managed diversity, high turnovers, interpersonal conflicts, and communication challenges will be highly notable which in most cases will result in adverse effects on the reputation, performance, and profitability of an enterprise  (Kreitz, 2007). Workplace diversity appreciates the fact that individuals differ in numerous ways that are both visible and invisible basing on gender, social status, age, sexuality, disability, personality, culture, and ethnicity (Green et al. 2008). However, the current approach for enhancing workplace diversity is more inclusive (Martin, 2014). Apart from the standard variables, other factors that include the skill sets, educational background, and working experience contributes to workforce diversity. There is thus a considerable shift in most firms towards the promotion of teamwork within an enterprise thus acknowledging the contribution by all individuals towards the success of business operations  (Kim, 2005). Corporations that maintain commitment towards promoting a diverse workforce strives to harness a group of people with different qualities. It is easy to capitalize a diversified group of works towards achieving growth and productivity (Bedi & Lakra 2014).

Workers from different backgrounds and expertise evoke alternative solutions and approach towards issues in the workplace  (Dike, 2013). Proper management of diversity in the workplace ensures that the strengths and best characteristics of each member are harnessed to promote productivity and deliver the best outcome  (Kim, 2005). Scholars like Dike (2013) Jamieson and O'Mara (1991) argue that the composition of a team determines its success in delivering on their mandate. A team with mixed capabilities provides essential components and skills necessary for strategic planning, communication, and conflict resolution (Vo, 2014). It has been noted that employees have a greater tenden...

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