Ethnic diversity at work : About interpersonal relations, well-being and performance in ethnically diverse organizations

Doctoral thesis OPEN
Oerlemans, W.G.M. (2009)
  • Publisher: Utrecht University

The main purpose of this thesis is to better understand the mixed findings about consequences of ethnic diversity in organizations on various work-outcomes. This thesis starts with an overview of theory and research on ethnic diversity in the workplace in Chapter 2. Thereafter, ethnic diversity is empirically studied from three different perspectives. From an acculturation perspective, findings in Chapter 3 indicate that non-western immigrant workers are most healthy at work when they are able to combine adaptation towards the Dutch culture with maintaining their own ethnic culture (integration orientation). Conversely, Dutch majority workers generally expect non-western immigrant workers to fully adapt to the Dutch culture, without maintaining aspects of their ethnic culture (assimilation orientation). Chapter 4 shows that differences in such acculturation orientations between the two groups relates to problematic interethnic relations in multicultural workplaces. Furthermore, from a social psychological perspective, results in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 show that ethnic diversity in teams relates somewhat negatively to various interpersonal relations. A partial explanation for this is that team members identify less with teams that are ethnically more diverse. Vice versa, team members experience better interpersonal relations when they are able to combine their ethnic identity with their team identity (upholding a called dual identity). Finally, from a contextual perspective, results in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 show that team members experience a better quality of intergroup relations in their team when there is a favorable intercultural climate. A partial explanation for this is that it creates an atmosphere where team members are able to uphold a dual identity. Chapter 7 examines various diversity beliefs in ethnically diverse teams. Here, findings demonstrate that ethnic diversity in teams leads to the most benefits in terms of creativity and performance when employee believe in the value of ethnic diversity, and use cultural differences in their team for cross-cultural learning (integration and learning perspective). Finally, theoretical implications and suggestions for future research, as well as practical implications of the findings are discussed in Chapter 8.
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