The Sustainability of Cultural Diversity
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The Sustainability of Cultural Diversity

Nations, Cities and Organizations

Edited by Maddy Janssens, Myriam Bechtoldt, Arie de Ruijter, Dino Pinello, Giovanni Prarolo and Vanja M.K. Stenius

This engaging book addresses the question of how diverse communities, whether in a nation, city or organization, can live together and prosper whilst retaining and enjoying their cultural differences. This is a particularly pertinent issue in the context of the modern world where mass migration and immigration are pervasive global phenomena.
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Chapter 13: Towards Sustainable Diversity in Organizations: Lessons from Good Diversity Management Practices

Patrizia Zanoni, Angela Nilsson, Maddy Janssens and Nils Wåhlin


Patrizia Zanoni, Angela Nilsson, Maddy Janssens and Nils Wåhlin 13.1 INTRODUCTION Despite the considerable body of research on diversity in the last twenty years, only few studies have empirically investigated successful diversity management practices (Konrad and Linnehan, 1995). While today we know a great deal about the mechanisms through which differences between employees affect organizational processes and outcomes such as conflict, creativity and problem-solving (Millikens and Martins, 1996; van Knippenberg and Schippers, 2007; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998), we know much less about how organizations can effectively steer those mechanisms through their policies and practices. Mostly written for a practitioners’ audience, the existing diversity management literature proposes so-called ‘best practices’ such as cross-cultural training, screening for bias in human resource (HR) management, career development programmes for minorities, and minority affiliation groups (Cox and Blake, 1991; Kossek and Lobel, 1996). Yet there is evidence that precisely these practices, which aim at diminishing individual managers’ bias or supporting minority individuals’ networks have only little to moderate effects in improving these latter’s disadvantaged position in organizations (Kalev et al., 2006).1 This chapter intends to make a contribution to the diversity management literature by inductively identifying organizational practices leading to ‘sustainable’ diversity. In order to do so, we draw on three ‘best’ cases: a dental clinic in Sweden, a call centre in Belgium and a wellness company in The Netherlands. We qualify diversity as sustainable to refer to its social and economic viability over a longer time (WCED, 1987). In the context of...

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