Thesis: Diversity in Business

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Diversity Management With Respect to Ethnicity, Culture and Gender

Diversity is an increasingly real and defining aspect of the American business culture. With respect to the globalization of the economy, the increasingly balance of gender in the workplace and the assertion of such forces as Affirmative Action, there is a clear emphasis on improving the diversity orientation of the American workplace. This discussion considers some of the theoretical and practical aspects of this condition, discussion such matters as Hofstede's Dimensions theory, Communication and Diversity and Gender Discrimination. These core subjects guide a literature review and, subsequently, direct an interview with a set of subjects who reflect this condition of diversity in the managerial role.

Introduction:

Diversity is widely considered to be a beneficial quality when found in a business or professional organization. This promotes a greater nuance in perspective, a wider drawing pool for contributing talent and a personnel which should naturally produce a harmonious cross-cultural organizational atmosphere. This is not always the reality unfortunately. The opportunities relating to organizational diversity are many, but so are the challenges. Indeed, for management and leadership, it should be considered a goal not just to improve diversity in the areas of culture, ethnicity and gender, but also to create an atmosphere in which these differences are embraced. The research conducted here is intended to demonstrate both that such diversity is inherently beneficial and that we are a long way away from realizing true and balanced diversity in the American working culture. Using both a literature review and an applied interview, the research will be geared toward the discussion of diversity as it relates to such organizational conditions as organizational culture, managerial leadership, communication and accommodation of the globalization of the corporate world. This promotes a consideration of Hofstede's Dimensions Theory, which examines the needs reflected by individual workers as a function of cultural differences. The research also examines such issues as ethnic or cultural differences in managerial leadership, the implications of diversity to workplace communication and the realities of gender diversity and gender discrimination in the workplace. The thesis driving the research here is that the workplace is increasingly characterized by diversity, but that this diversity is also distinguished by the need for greater accommodation, sensitivity and organizational preparation.

Methodology:

In order to best determine the correlation between diversity management and the experiences of those outside of the hegemonic order of American working culture, it is necessary to draw a correlation between existing research and applied data gathering. Therefore, the research conducted here will pair two distinct processes, reporting on a set of gathered literature samples constructed to examine ethnic and gender diversity respectively, the discussion will than focus on the combination of data gathered from interviews administered to two subjects who qualify as "others" from a diversity perspective.

The interviews reported here will have been constructed based on open-ended face-to-face discussion with the intended subjects, and will report on their experiences as minority women in the American workforce.

Literature Review:

The theoretical thrust of the first section in the literature review will be driven by Dimensions of Culture, which denotes that cultural differences do have a direct impact on the way that individuals relate to organizations and organizational goals. To this extent, Hofstede identifies Uncertainty Avoidance, Power Distance, Masculinity-Femininity and Individualism-Collectivism as the dimensions by which cultures and cultural organizational values tend to differentiate. These conditions will be considered throughout a discussion which touches upon the increasingly culturally diverse nature of organizational orientation.

In consideration of the relative Human Resources issues, our research points to Hofstede's dimensions, which denotes the relationship between such priorities as economic survival, job satisfaction and personal advancement and personal . More specifically, Hofstede's framework for examination offers an array of spectrums across which it must be understood that there exist a wide variance of cultural distinctions. With this in mind, we approach the realities of modern business, which are deeply impacted by the patterns of globalization. Truly, the deregulation of international trading parameters has dramatically altered the interaction of parties across state borders. Accordingly, our research notes that "even within particular industries, worldwide companies have developed very different strategic and organizational responses to changes in their environment. While a few players have prospered by turning the environmental turmoil to their advantage, many are merely surviving -- struggling to adjust to complex, often contradictory demands." (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 3) This is a condition which suggests some shortcoming in understanding and applying the lessons of Hofstede's Dimensions theory. The research here will approach the subject of cross-cultural management and business interaction with consideration to the cultural challenges addressed by Hofstede's theory.

Using Hofstede's framework, we can observe that the cultural qualities of a nation will often have a sweeping impact on business orientation. Hofstede's Uncertainty Avoidance principle "refers to the extent to which a culture feels threatened by ambiguous, uncertain situations and tries to avoid them by establishing more structure. The high positive scores on the uncertainty avoidance index (UAI) indicate low tolerance for ambiguity." (2) This means that differing cultures will score differently in terms of organizational orientation toward risk or conservatism.

To this extent, the differences that are accounted for betwixt trading nations may be seen as directly pertinent to specific cultural realities within each of these contexts. Moreover, as our reading on the subject of significantly cultural divergent nations such as China suggests, "the type of work goals whose pursuit is encouraged and rewarded depend in part on the prevailing cultural value emphasized in society." (Jaw et al., 2) This is consistent with our findings here thus far.

The variations across priorities for the national profiles considered here are suggestive of the need from strategic orientation toward any given location. An increasingly international business atmosphere places the heightened demand upon corporate management to attend to the differentiated demands of various cultures. This is evident from a simple consideration of the priorities discussed here. Our research, in fact, points to the potentially dire consequence of failing to acclimate to the interaction of cultures displaying different points of the spectrum.

Black et al. (1999) offer an interesting case scenario that demonstrates the issues that might potentially arise in the intercession of business cultures. The authors choose a potentially common scenario in today's international business atmosphere, asking the reader to "consider a mid-sized company that sent its marketing director to Asia. The marketing director did not want to go from the beginning and was essentially dragged overseas. As illustrated in the following situation, he was completely oblivious to any need for cultural sensitivity." (45) the authors go on to relay an incident in which the man's cultural inexperience results in a disastrous meeting in Korea. During a verbal dispute, the American businessman went out of his way to prove his authority on a subject, humiliating his Korean counterpart in front of his associates. Needless to say, the damage to the relationship between these organizations was irreparable. This is an effective demonstration of the importance in priming organizations for the cultural implications of this level of interaction.

With respect to Hofstede's theory, this refers us to his dimension of collectivism vs. individualism. Here, his theory denotes that "individualism-collectivism describes the degree to which a culture relies on and has allegiance to the self or the group." (Hofstede, 2) in this instance, the individualism accentuated in Western culture combines with the subject's absence of cultural sensitivity to create a negative cultural interaction with a culture that is far more collectivist. Such an example is a catalyst for the reinforced idea that cultural sensitivity is necessary to cross-cultural communication.

This manifests in concerted ideas regarding the best mode to help individuals of all backgrounds achieve personal needs, such as the need to achieve financial success by leading a company to excel in its field. As the Tery source indicates, "different cultures have different ideas about leadership." (Terry, 62) to this extent, the path to success may genuinely constitute different characteristics according to different cultures, even if many of the same end goals such as a financial security or a sense of self-worth remain constant across cultural borders. Individual advancement or the demonstration of individual talents may be of less value than personal investment in collective advancement in collectivist cultures. By contrast, the westerner may struggle to contend with a culture where individual success and competitive advancement are not praised.

As Hofstede's framework denotes, the internationalization of our economy has contributed to a change in the nature of corporate culture, personnel and leadership. One major implication of this is a change in the nature of the world economy, wherein nations have become increasingly interdependent through relationships forged by the integration of their private sectors, and where as a result organizations in all contexts are themselves becoming increasingly diverse. Closer relationships between such culturally distinct nations as the United States and India due to relaxing trade regulations, and more intimate interaction between traditional partners such as the United States and the United Kingdom due… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Diversity in Business.  (2009, October 31).  Retrieved July 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/diversity-business/22201

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"Diversity in Business."  31 October 2009.  Web.  24 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/diversity-business/22201>.

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"Diversity in Business."  Essaytown.com.  October 31, 2009.  Accessed July 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/diversity-business/22201.