Term Paper: Cultural Diversity in Workplace Master Level

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Cultural Diversity in Workplace

With the concept of globalization continuously rising, various industries nowadays are adapting with the idea of having Cultural Diversity in the workplace. As organizations are becoming a little less competitive as the globalization becomes the trend, majority of the team-management came up with a viable alternative in organizational development.

Team playing and/or working is an idea, which has penetrated most businesses during the 90's (Mattson, 1998). Groups and teams are powerful ways to organize people around each corporate performance goals (Katzenbach et al., 1993).

Each organizational member's contribution will never match the combined performance in a real team. Usually, the need to form a team arises from the need either to get things done more efficiently, using lesser time and effort (Mattson, 1998).

And with this, the idea of a cross-cultural team sprouted up. Studies and researches were done to understand whether it would be of competitive advantage for a certain company if there are team members from different cultural backgrounds and how such differences can be understood and will not pose any problem for the company.

This paper studies the concept of cultural diversity and its benefits to the workforce and the organization. Specifically, this is aimed at:

Analyzing the concept of cultural diversity

Understanding how cultural diversity is achieved and maintained by both the HR department and the management

Recognizing some countries and/or companies with cultural diverse workforce

Classifying the best possible approaches that leaders of a culturally diverse company should do so as to maintain the competitive advantage of the company

Literature reviews are focused on the aspect of cultural diversity and various leadership concepts that are of significance to cultural diversity.

Review of Related Literature

Cultural Diversity

With the continuing movement of the economy - may it be a decline or growth - every businesses and companies are using every possible means to keep the company at a stable end. Every organization must have the capability to adapt to the movement of the market and the ever-changing needs of the customers.

However, an organization can only do this if the people - the very members of the workforce - are working smoothly as a team. Moreover, now that diversity in the workforce is seen as advantage rather than a problem, management have been seeking every possible means to maintain the competitiveness of each and every member of the workforce, thereby benefiting the company in the end (Becker, 1964).

Diversity in the workplace has taken on a new face today. Nowadays, workplace diversity is no longer just about the issue of anti-discrimination compliance. Leveraging workplace diversity is increasingly seen as a vital strategic resource for competitive advantage of the people and of the business. More companies are linking workplace diversity to their strategic goals and objectives. Because of this, the human resource department (HRD) plays a key role in diversity management and leadership to create and empower an organizational culture that fosters a respectful, inclusive, knowledge-based environment where each employee has the opportunity to learn, grow and meaningfully contribute to the organization's success (Jayne and Dipboye, 2004).

Organizations intending to introduce multiculturalism in their workforce have two avenues of guidance. Organizations can base their structures on multicultural pedagogy and team management theory to help them prepare for an increasingly diverse workforce. Companies can benefit from academic studies, which have already provided an outline of difficulty. Pedagogical methodologies facilitate the re-conception of the relationship between the self and the 'other', and the active participation in the learning process. On the other hand, industry's team management theory, which recommends participatory structures over hierarchical structures, offers methods for eradicating barriers and fostering unity. In a multicultural setting, collective decision-making is more desirable than individual actions. It emphasizes the importance of cooperation and team goals (Hambrick et.al, 1998).

With the increasingly multicultural workforce, companies are implementing programs to address diversity. It is suggested industry's own team management theory, which dismantles hierarchical structures in favor of participatory ones, suggests ways of dissolving barriers and creating unity. Working together to reach a common goal underlies team management theory. Successful teams in industry support the fact that collective decision making is more productive than that of the individual. New workplace structures should focus not on individual change but on cooperation and team goals. Pedagogical methods of inclusivity and workplace teams can assist companies as they prepare for the increasingly diverse workforce (Hambrick et.al, 1998).

Organizational structures based on multicultural pedagogy and team management theory can assist companies as they prepare for the increasingly diverse workforce. Business organizations adopting a multicultural approach can profit from academic research, which defines the crux of multiculturalism as the problematic sharing of power and the valuing of difference. Pedagogical methodologies enable students to reconceived the relationship between the self and the "other" and to become active participants in the learning process (Hambrick et.al, 1998).

Working together to reach a common goal underlies both collaborative/cooperative learning and team management theory. Thus, new workplace structures - in response to the increasingly multicultural workforce - should focus on cooperation and team goals rather than on individual change. Further, communication plays a key role in working with others to achieve company goals, and thus, in the successful corporate shift to a multicultural, cooperative philosophy (Hambrick et.al, 1998).

The desire to maintain individual identity operates in all employees -- those within current corporate structures and those who attempt to enter them - and can create tensions between cultures. Germaine Shames (1986) explains that cultures clash because individuals feel that their "own ways of behaving seem natural, right, and normal, and not merely the result of cultural conditioning." Therefore, the culture shock that the "other" experiences is a "cumulative and debilitating state of disorientation, one that builds slowly from each experience in which the sufferer encounters contrary ways of perceiving, doing, and valuing things" (Shames, 1986). Such culture shock can result from differences in race, gender, physical ability, aptitudes, outlooks, backgrounds, and learning styles. One aim of multicultural management is the reduction of such culture shock.

Also, it is possible that work in small groups can create new corporate cultures for getting things done. Newcomers may have different approaches but will reach similar ends; therefore, true collaboration and negotiation can lead to positive results. Marlene Fine's (1995) study of the multicultural success of nine organizations confirms that companies valuing "diverse cultural modes of being and interacting" do benefit from this approach, where "all cultural voices participate fully in setting goals and making decisions." Other studies reinforce these findings. George Henderson's (1994) analysis concludes that successful culturally diverse organizations are able to build trust; "create an open, problem-solving climate"; allow widespread responsibility for decision making and for setting diversity goals; and foster increased "awareness of the diversify 'process' and its consequences for organization effectiveness." According to Henderson (1994), the "building blocks for a diversity program include team building, inter-group problem solving, confrontation meetings, goal-setting and planning, third-party facilitation, and consulting pairs." Finally, Gary Heil's (1993) study indicates that companies prosper when they reward experimentation, non-conformity, and the questioning of current practices. In sum, successful diversity programs possess the basic components of well-functioning teams: trust; a non-judgmental atmosphere; conflict resolution and negotiation skills; goal-setting abilities; and pervasive individual responsibility. Thus, team theory facilitates diversity in organizations.

Maximizing the Benefits of Culturally Diverse Human Resources

With the idea on core and distinctive employee competencies comes the maximize utilization of company human resources. With Wright's, McMahan's, and McWilliams' (1994) expression that discloses that the human resources have the highest probability of providing the source of sustained competitive advantage for the firm, below are the suggested ways on how to maximize the company human resource, especially of the cultural backgrounds of the workforce is diverse:

Regard the Culturally Diverse Human Resources as Valuable

In the resource-based perspective, it is strictly suggested that the human resource be valuable before it can help maintaining sustainable competitive advantage for the firm. One of the best thing to note and ensure if the resource offers great value to the firm is by assessing if there is a heterogeneous labor in the firm. This means that the jobs of firms differ and these jobs require different skills and the supply of labor is equally heterogeneous in a way that individuals vary in both the types and levels of their skills (Steffy and Maurer, 1988).

In line with the idea of heterogeneous supply and demand of labor, there are studies that can prove that the idea stating that the demand for and supply of labor are heterogeneous, at least with regards to skill levels of individuals. In connection with this, Lawler (1996) has argued that human resources must have power, information, knowledge, and rewards (PIKRs) to be a source of competitive advantage. One best example of this is the fact that personnel selection, training, and utility analysis has verified that more highly skilled individuals do better than lower skilled individuals (Boudreau, 1991). More so, these performance differences have been able to provide… [END OF PREVIEW]

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