Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Chidiac, E 2015, 'A study of the strategic management of ethnic and cultural diversity in Australian settings: a multiple case study', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright E Chidiac 2015

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to investigate the strategic management of ethnic and cultural diversity in Australia, and to determine the salient benefits that organisations could derive when ethnic and cultural differences are seen as opportunities, not as problems, and are viewed as benefits rather than threats. The aim of this thesis is to examine what is occurring in terms of the strategic management of ethnic and cultural diversity in the workplace from the perspectives of front-line managers. In doing so it provides a clear demonstration of the benefits, conflicts and challenges faced by organisations. While all the organisations participating in this research reported obtaining benefits from ethnic diversity, these reports were focused more on what the employees could give the organisation, rather than on an understanding of how this diversity created a better workplace and led to more creativity and productivity. This research also explores the gaps between the relevant literature and the actual management of diversity in the workplace in multicultural Australia. This is a qualitative study using four case studies to explore the research questions. The primary data were collected through 22 face-to-face semi-structured interviews. The qualitative analysis reveals that the management of participant organisations appreciate diverse workforces and see a wide range of benefits to the organisations and their customers. Another key finding of this study is that age and gender, as measures of power distance, in some cultures have led to conflicts that are, in turn, related to diversity issues. Ethnic and cultural differences of such perceptions challenge people with authority in the workplace. It affects the relations of employees with each other as well as with their management. Based on the analysis of qualitative data, this study further suggests that strategic management of diversity in the workplace in Australia would be better governed by a system of self-regulation. It is believed that the introduction of industry-led codes of practice in relation to diversity management, which go beyond the existing anti-discrimination legislation, is necessary for organisations to harness and embrace diversity effectively. The study also notes a lack of transparency within organisations that purport to have diversity policies as their management were unwilling to discuss their practices. More than forty organisations that publicly acknowledge having diversity policies were contacted, but only one organisation agreed to participate in this study.

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