Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Feldman, Joseph Allan URN etd-11112005-112310 Document Title Factors of workforce diversity that influence individual and organizational performance Degree DBA (Organizational Behaviour) Department Human Resource Management Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Prof J J De Beer Keywords
- Diversity in workplace
Date 2002-04-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractAffirmative action to redress past discriminatory practices is being implemented on a growing scale in the world, and is creating more diversity in the workforce of organizations. With the implementation of affirmative action in organizations, dramatic changes in the composition of the workforce takes place, especially at management level.
Many leaders and managers have a poor awareness of the impact of changes in workforce composition on individual and organizational performance and its management. The central issue in dealing with workforce diversity is power-sharing. A heightened awareness in managers with regard to workforce diversity means becoming open to differences between employees. It also presuppose the creation of an inclusive environment that new groups will need to be let into positions of decisionmaking and influence.
Beyond opening the system, organizations will need to create strategies to help staff at all levels to overcome their resistance to this demographic transformation, and deal with one another in harmonious, co-operative ways. Racial fears and tensions have historically shaped the management style of dominant groups to the point where thoughtless prejudice and stereotypical reactions have become the norm. Reactions of workers to such a management style reflects distrust.
Diversity-related performance problems can be encountered in organizations, due to the role that diversity plays in individual and organizational behaviour. Dominant groups may project prejudice and stereotyping that result in relationship and task performance problems. Negative effects like absenteeism, lack of training and so forth, give rise to inefficiency and low productivity. Thus, diversity-related problems can increase with increases in diversity (due to affirmative action and employment equity programmes), resulting in an increase in its negative effects on organizational efficiency, if diversity is not managed. The South African economy cannot afford the disregard for the management of diversity. Such disregard poses three dilemmas.
The first dilemma is the reality of the consequences of Affirmative action in the context of the management of diversity. Whilst any increase in the level of task non-competitiveness cannot be afforded and accommodated (which in itself is the result of increasing diversity that is not managed), affirmative action has to be implemented. Against this background, it is obvious that South African organizations do not have the option of not understanding the dynamics of affirmative action and its role in the dynamics of workforce diversity.
The second dilemma is that there exists a research-need to understand workforce diversity and its issues (diversity-related problems) in South Africa as a prerequisite for developing strategies that are more effective than legislation in dealing with employee-perceptions of equity in the workplace.
The third dilemma is the issue of knowing how to manage diversity. Most research in the world to date on was done on “unmanaged diversity”. The status quo of diversity in South Africa is such that diversity related problems are intrinsic to the types of diversity discussed in this study.
Diversity will increase in South Africa, which may facilitate the deterioration of the status quo. To reduce the possible negative impacts of this development, the need exists for research to address the three dilemmas discussed.
The research method included firstly a literature study on the most recent appropriate perspectives on the dynamics of workforce diversity, and secondly a research design that was used to determine the diversity-related organization form factors of workforce diversity in South Africa.
In chapter 2 workforce diversity was studied in the context of Behavioural science, specifically in its contribution to organizational behaviour, with emphasis on group behaviour. Shortcomings of the established Interactional Model of Cultural of Diversity (IMCD) in explaining diversity-related group behaviour is remedied to satisfy research requirements of this study. A new paradigm of workforce diversity is created by integrating research perspectives on diverse-team processes, change-models and the IMCD. The outcome of this study is tested within the context of the results of a pilot-study done in 1997 on the progress made in managing diversity in South Africa.
In chapter 3 the management of workforce diversity is studied. The transformation of homogeneity through affirmative action to increased diversity, is investigated. Dimensions of workforce diversity and its role and nature in diversity processes is studied. Most relevant empirical South African research perspectives on the dimensions of diversity in South Africa are integrated with conclusions of chapters 2 and 3 in the construction of a Cultural-specific change model of workforce diversity.
In chapter 4 the research design was outlined The diversity-related organization form (mono-cultural, non discriminatory or multicultural), dimensions and factors of workforce diversity is empirically determined at two levels: Firstly, organization form, dimensions, and factors of workforce diversity are identified in a descriptive study. Secondly, the factors of workforce diversity is then determined in a causal study.
In chapter 5 the results were reported in terms of the dimensions and organization form that was determined, and the identified factors. The results of the determination of the factors, are presented in the context of a theoretical model of workforce diversity in South Africa, that was established in the causal study.
In chapter 6 conclusions and recommendations were reported strictly on the basis of the data of the empirical study and the results. The factors that were determined, are presented as transformational (long-term leadership), and transactional (short-term management) factors. Recommendations are made on appropriate strategies and interventions to manage workforce diversity.
This study has limitations that impose constraints on the scope of the study. The population sample is an unrestricted non-probability convenience sample, with size n = 614. Thus, it is very difficult to estimate precision, and interpretations of variance of the mean statistic has to be done very conservatively. The results of the analysis of covariance to be used in inferential methods is affected by the sample’s status as a convenience sample, as variances affect.
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