This article by Jackson, et.al focuses on the term ‘diversity’, and the kinds of researches that have been carried out to see the effects of workplace diversity on teams and organizations. Diversity in this context has been used as a term that describes the personal attributes of people who are working in a single unit, or workplace. Organizational groups of three people in a single work setting have been studied, which include production teams, top management teams, corporate boards, temporary task forces, functional departments, total organizations, and student teams working on required class projects.
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The attributes included those that can be seen on first sight of an individual, like age, sex, and race, those that can be determined after speaking to the person a little, like the personality, knowledge and values, and their education and tenure were also considered. An electronic research was conducted from the year 1997-2002, using relevant key terms; also included were 19 journals which were manually researched. 63 empirical studies were yielded by these two methods of research.
Firstly, attributes such as age, sex and race have been considered, which do not have a direct impact on the performance at work, or on the interpersonal relationships between people at work. These traits, however, do have an effect on the values, beliefs and attitudes withheld by the individuals. Readily detectable traits which include age, sex and race have shown diversity effects of up to 89%. 24% of these accounted for task-relevant attributes.
The research was conducted on a SWOT basis, in which the strengths included have shown association with the social identity theory. Researchers have shown a strong link between diversity and the social processes within organizations. The social identity theory and social categorization have been devised for studying the effects of readily-detectable diversity, as well as to determine the effects of value-based diversity and personality. The weaknesses include aspects that relate to diversity in the workplace leading to changes in behavioral patterns, for example, cultural diversity may lead to a difference of cultural likeness and behavior, which may in turn affect team performance.
The research conducted has given rise to more opportunities for further research on the topic. Some aspects of diversity in organizations have not been elaborated sufficiently; this gives rise to a scope for further insight. For example, religious diversity could be a factor that could be looked into, because of the diversity of religions present in organizations in the United States, mainly due to abundance of immigrants. The new theoretical developments in this field may also improve understanding of diversity dynamics. Measurement of diversity may be enhanced due to multi-disciplinary work, using techniques such as social network analysis. A variety of diversity disciplines are now present, which can be gained insight into, providing an interesting opportunity to expand diversity research.
Organizations usually focus on training individuals on distinct aspects of diversity rather than collective approach. Training must be targeted towards achieving specific goals & aims.
There have been many attempts undertaken for studying, measuring, and researching diversity, but literature shows little about the effects of diversity in the workplace. There needs to be a common paradigm for everyone to agree to and follow. For example, one aspect is that there should be multiple dimensions of diversity to be assessed. Further research is required in this field to attain better results.
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Susan E. Jackson, Aparna Joshi and Niclas L. Erhardt (2003) Recent Research on Team and Organizational Diversity: SWOT Analysis and Implications. Journal of Management 2003; 29; 801.