Affirmative Action Research Proposal

Pages: 15 (4251 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  Level: Doctoral  ·  Topic: Race

Affirmative Action

The impact of Affirmative Action on the Professional Success of African-American MBA Graduates

BASE THEORY:

Affirmative action as it stands in the professional and business sphere has generated a wide spectrum of controversy. Antipathetic views have flourished over the years arguing that African-American MBA graduates should receive similar treatment and meet the standard criteria for admission into business organizations. The inimical perspective is that affirmative action in a sense gradually introduces reverse discrimination against the majority. "Those who believe Affirmative Action's time is limited are of three minds. Some believe that discontinuing affirmative action would be a mistake-whenever that might be. Others see discontinuation is long overdue. Still others see affirmative action as a current necessity whose life expectancy is limited." (Roosevelt, 2004, p.2)

This study is driven though by the recognition that Affirmative Action is designed to counteract what may be characterized as a sociological 'achievement gap' persisting between the white hegemony and various racial 'minorities.' The achievement gap theory serves as a basic rationale for the endorsement of affirmative action that will be contended here. In the context of education, this has had distinctly damaging effects on the lives and opportunities of students, beginning with their academic performance in a fundamentally unequal system. Accordingly, IES (2009) indicates that "a difference in scores between two groups of students (for instance, male and female, or Black and White) can only be considered an achievement gap if the difference is statistically significant, meaning larger than the margin of error." (IES, 1) Quite certainly, the conditions impacting minority groups in the United States reinforce the theory that such a gap is a presence in America's schools.

The article by Alon (2009) draws the focus of our base theory for its preoccupation with indicators that suggest in most areas that race remains the primary cause of the achievement gap. The Alon articles primary argument is that a cultural condition of inherent segregation, which occurs by geography, economy and personal experience, causes the achievement gaps found in schools. His research employs an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) in order to compare the early educational indicators that seem to distinguish academic performance by race.

The study is focused on examining "the perplexing role of schools in narrowing the achievement gap among students of varying social classes while widening the gap between black and white students. He finds that between the fall and spring of first grade, black students' reading and math skills fall almost two months behind those of white students." (Alon, 731)

The Alon study suggests itself as one due for further examination as it provides a clear intercession of the various patterns of inequality that warrant the use of Affirmative Action in education and employment decisions. Namely, Alon explicitly connects the general sociological isolation of minorities from hegemonic opportunities to the clear differences in testing and academic performance capabilities. This helps to underscore a study which presupposes that this achievement gap may be narrowed for the demographic identified as African-American MBA graduates. In response to the imperatives established by this theory, this dissertation will primarily deal with the conceptualization of affirmative action and the basis of claims suggesting that this policy helps to bring greater educational access and career success to African-American business students. This improves the pool of African-Americans who graduate from post-graduate MBA programs and advance to serve in prominent business leadership roles.

A Brief background

Though affirmative action is still a controversial issue, it is nothing new. Debates can still be heard on this subject as it inundates news broadcasts, radio airways and printed materials. Currently you can find debates that are focused on the use of affirmative action in higher education as a result of recent judicial inquiries into the fairness and necessity of the practice. Those that are for affirmative action argue that its implementation is more than necessary to ensure that minorities receive equal opportunity. Opponents of affirmative action contend that the practice is not necessary because it does not promote equality; in fact those against affirmative action argue that it does not help minorities but rather degrades them. Some opponents even argue that affirmative action sends minorities the message that they can only succeed if they are given extra benefits; which results in a damaging of their cultural credibility and collective advancement.

Education is justifiably regarded by politicians, activists and policy-makers as the access point to employment, social mobility and economic independence, which denotes the reason for the selection in this research to focus on MBA graduates. Due to the firmly entrenched history of racial imbalance which has forged the United States of present day, education and its associated prospects have long been made available to white men with a degree of exclusivity that has severely handicapped the opportunities available to demographics such as African and Hispanic-Americans. Indeed, categorized under the umbrella misnomer 'minority,' these groups are not simply detained in their access to quality education, but often are steeped in cultural and economic conditions which do not encourage the pursuit of education at all.

A lingering element of America's racist past, our only recently integrated public schools continue to exist within a larger framework of segregation patterns. Though no longer legally enforced by Jim Crow, the division in race is still harbored by public schools. To date, many attempts to curb the explicit racism of America's past have been blunted by implicit cultural tendencies, especially in universities and places of employment, to limit minority access to those resources readily available for white students. Affirmative Action is one of the strongest officially sanctioned instruments for eroding the continued imbalance of opportunity for black and white students in the United States, in its schools and in its post-graduate contexts. Therefore, this discussion will address literature pertaining to this subject with an intent to clarify its value, to identify the arguments against it and ultimately to illustrate that Affirmative Action remains necessary today. Indeed, evidence from the first several generations of Affirmative Action suggests that there are both greater numbers of African-American MBA graduates and that said MBAs have made strides in closing the achievement gap between the races. According to Austin (2008, p.1), "there was a significant economic progress among the African-American from mid 1990s. By the year 2000, the median black household had climbed to its highest level ever, while black unemployment and poverty rates had declined to their lowest levels on record." Corresponding to Austin's statement, this dissertation will focus on how affirmative action would affect the choice of African-American MBAs' professional and business careers and also their eventual professional success.

That said, arguments recommending the discontinuation of Affirmative Action fail to recognize that the gap still remains considerable and is ingrained in many aspects of America's professional culture. According to HJKF, (2006), "it was established that African-Americans were the nation's most unemployed groups and were the most disproportionately represented in the professional field." (p.1) African-Americans were also the least appreciated individuals at the workplace and least likely to experience promotion to managerial posts. As stated by Chima & Wharton (1999), "discrimination, though practiced by individuals, is often reinforced by the well-established rules, policies, and practices of organizations." (2) This means that once employed, discrimination at the organizational level results in advancement difficulties for African-Americans.

However, with the increasing call for affirmative action and equality, the representation of African-American MBA graduates in senior management and the rate of promotions increased from 1993 as identified by a study carried out by United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). Studies carried out by GAO from 1993 through 2004 revealed that there were increased promotions among African-American MBA graudates. The study reports that "during that period, EEO-1 data show that management-level representation by minority women and men increased from 11.1% of all industry management-level positions to 15.5%. Specifically, African-Americans increased their management-level representation from 5.6% to 6.6%" (GAO, 2006, p.3).

Affirmative action in academic and professional development

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has conducted numerous studies and surveys to establish the career initiation and progress among minority groups, especially African-Americans in business school programs. Studies and surveys such as the mba.com Registrant Survey and the Global MBA Graduate Survey have given insight into the manner in which African-American MBA students acquire and secure successful professions in the business field. These surveys have proven reliable and now, many companies and organizations use these surveys to hire and retain African-American MBA graduates to comport with affirmative action policies.

These studies have also provided a means by which to gauge the impact of affirmative action in the professional and career field of African-American MBAs upon graduation. According to McCoy (1995), the different applications of affirmative action are identifiable through historical analysis of these studies and lead to benefits that African-American MBA graduates enjoy (p.56). By analyzing the business and professional aspect of these graduates, two distinct fields come into focus, academic and professional employment.

To this point, attitudes at educational institutions have evolved over the decades since the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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