Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. Compare Research Paper

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¶ … cultural diversity in the workplace. Compare and contrast elements of qualitative and quantitative research methods in terms of survey and case study designs. Which characteristics of qualitative and quantitative analysis would be useful to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of cultural diversity in the workplace?Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Paper on Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. Compare and Assignment

Qualitative research is any research method or design that does not rely on numerical findings but instead relies on findings that can be termed subjective. Some examples of qualitative research are oral histories, open ended (rather than numerical) question answering, interviews that end in materials that are not quantifiable but still none the less demonstrate a finding that is pertinent to the research question and of course observational data which cannot be completely quantified but creates a picture of the materials being studied, without being obtrusive to participants. (Trochim, 2001, pp. 152-167) There are many reasons to utilize a qualitative research design, the most pressing of which is specific individual understanding of phenomena being observed rather than measured and/or tested in a hypothesis. "Qualitative research refers to a deep holistic exploration and description of an identified phenomenon in the field. The purpose of qualitative research is to elicit understanding and not to test hypotheses." (Poggenpoel & Myburgh, 2005, p. 304) Qualitative data can be created and/or utilized independently to create a specific outcome or in conjunction with additional quantitative research methods and designs. Conversely, quantitative research methodology is characterized by measurements of statistical data, which can include numbers of events and/or other specific detail which is quantifiable to a large degree. (Poggenpoel & Myburgh, 2005, p. 304) Finally, there are several other study designs that lend themselves to either qualitative and/or quantitative research methodologies and of course the two methodologies can be combined to help create a more complete picture of a phenomena. The two study designs mentioned in the research question, above regarding cultural diversity in the workplace are case study and questionnaire. Both measurement tools can be associated with either qualitative or quantitative methodologies, though case study designs are more slanted toward qualitative methodologies and questionnaires, depending on the nature of the questions, as well as their potential answers lends itself more readily to a quantitative research methodology. An issue like workplace diversity lends itself well to the case study method as well as qualitative research methodologies as the concept of diversity often is accompanied by subjective human social issues such as discrimination, racism and a host of other group borne phenomena. (Roberson & Stevens, 2006, 379-391) it is also fundamentally important to note that qualitative methodologies could be mixed with quantitative methodologies to demonstrate a more complete picture of trends and situations associated with diversity. It is for instance extremely important to have the demographic and event data associated with quantitative (often questionnaire) based methods possibly in conjunction with a case study methodology. Case study methods often involve the collection of both data and observations associated with interview materials that create a broad but comprehensive view of the current or event time situation as it is viewed by multiple respondents involved in the situation or location being studied. (Poggenpoel & Myburgh, 2005, p. 388) the development of combined research methodologies would in fact best suit a situation of human interrelationships, such as those which are present in the workplace and demonstrate both real and subjective data regarding individual experience, especially subjective experience. "An organization's diversity climate refers to employees' shared perceptions of the policies and practices that communicate the extent to which fostering diversity and eliminating discrimination is a priority in the organization." (Pugh, Dietz, Brief, & Wiley, 2008, pp. 1422-1428) Additionally, the so called negative outcomes of diversity, beyond the varied often community-based idea of diversity itself are fundamentally subjective and situational in nature.

Diversity in the workforce has resulted in both positive and negative management, subordinate and peer reaction. Hopefully, the preponderance of the response is positive, or at least neutral, as it should be. There are a variety of consulting interventions that serve to facilitate favorable reaction, but they will not be the subjects of this article. Rather, we will focus on employee reaction to improper conduct (discrimination, harassment, or retaliation), whether real or imagined. And therein lies the intrigue behind the dysfunctional side of diversity. (Finkleman, 2007, p. 254)

The major tenets of qualitative research are constructive of the idea that interpreting primary information is more useful than demonstrating how such materials can be quantified, simply for the purpose of discrete inquiry. Creating research that is reflective of as much of the complete picture as one can find is essentially the goal of qualitative research. Qualitative research does not attempt to discretely resolve questions with numbers but attempts instead to develop greater understanding of the phenomena or events being studied. Qualitative research is also frequently utilized as a way to develop hypotheses that might then be addressed in future research or in multi-dimensional research at a later date and lastly qualitative research is frequently seed as generalizable rather than detail oriented work. (Trochim, 2001, p. 152)

The nature of qualitative research and the two terms which are significant in defining qualitative research, epistemology and ontology go a long way in the development of why one might seek to utilize qualitative research designs rather than quantitative designs. The epistemological assumptions cited by researchers that use the technique demonstrate that they believe quantification to be limiting of phenomena and that all research should be inclusive of context. Immersion can be a key to some types of qualitative design, where the individual moves in with those being studied, until such time as they deem to no longer be intrusive, at which point they begin to study phenomena in a flexible (question building manner). The ontological assumptions of qualitative research hold that each individual has a point-of-view and that taking this measure out of the equation distorts and challenges holistic interpretation. With these assumptions in mind the paradigm of qualitative research is dictated as a choice associated with epistemological and ontological assumptions of the researcher and of course the material information being sought. (Trochim, 2001, p. 158)

Historically, qualitative research methods and designs are nothing new, any time an historian or an anthropologist seeks to interpret a primary research such as correspondence in the case of history or field findings in the case of anthropology of archeology qualitative methods are being used. Subjectivity is a measure that is hopefully years of expertise in the area of study in which they seek information and can build on the knowledge base of the area being studied. (Darlington & Scott, 2002, p. 2) it has not been until the more recently that qualitative research methods have begun to be employed in the social sciences and elsewhere to help answer questions with more limited obtrusive results, often times the resulting material is subjectively analyzed by "experts" while other times it is simply printed in its entirety for the future researcher or reader to interpret independent of the slant of the original researcher. (Darlington & Scott, 2002, pp. 3-6) Many researchers in countless fields of study will also note that qualitative research is particularly helpful when the subject matter being studied is culturally expressive, as interpretations of other cultures can tend to sway researchers to conclusions that do not build reasonable context for the individual or group being studied. (Zurita, 2001, p. 31)

According to the assumptions of qualitative research the role of the researcher is simply to observe and record information regarding the nature of the phenomena being studied. The researcher, through a basic set of qualitative assumptions and dynamics tends to demonstrate, at least ideally, that the researcher is an outside party and would like to have as little influence on the context and content of researched material as possible. In the following example a social scientist explains how he perceived his role into the research environment, and stresses that the manner in which he was accepted into the fold (i.e. immersion) of the group in which he was studying was dictate by his own as well as the study group's demographic and material experiences.

Although my initial interactions with the teachers were undoubtedly facilitated by the fact that we all belonged to the same general ethnic group, there were other aspects of my identity that played an important role in their acceptance of me. I taught in K-12 classrooms for 16 years prior to becoming a university professor, and I was the same age as the majority of teachers in Agriville Junior/Senior High School. I also grew up in a small rural town very much like Agriville in size and socioeconomic status, populated by lower- to-middle-class farmers and railroad workers. As a young doctoral student from Chicago who had never been a classroom teacher, Martha found that none of her multiple identities meshed very well with those of the Agriville teachers. (Merchant & Willis, 2001, p. 5)

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