Individual Way Of Executing A Task Cultural Studies Essay

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This report emphasizes on how the cultural identity of individuals and the execution of their innovative thinking helps transforming an organisations way of performing task in an altogether enhanced way and thus setting an stage for employees to work into an motivated and creative atmosphere.

Introduction :

Cultural diversity is the way of displaying an individual's thinking or way of performing the duties which are upon them in an organisation. Cultural diversity can also be defined as development of an persons ideology, cultures, values and other factors related to a personnel development of an individual in an place where he is working, serving or performing duties while taking into consideraton their cultural and regional factors. The different factors that showcases an individual's culture are:




Way of thinking




Learning style


Regional and cultural factors



Geographic location

In this report we would focus on how an individual way of executing a task can improve the organisation and add to improve the ongoing operations .For a organisation to increase the environment of globalisation more ideas, cultures,

beliefs and personnel identity of an individual should be considered more than even before. As people nowadays live in an diversified marketplace where inclusion of different approaches and ideas are given more important which helps an organisation to be more flexible in order to accept changes and be creative. Therefore an organisation should involve top management into sharing the technical know-how of how to respect different cultures and ideas from different personnel in order to provide a diversified and a multicultural environment.

In order to get a culturally diversified environment an open pathway to involve the various issues related to different countries, experience, individual way of thinking, management style, ideologies and regional and cultural factors should be present. These can help an organisation to achieve a inclusion of multicultural workplace. The factors which an organisation follow by inclusion of personalised thinking and innovations helps to create a own way of working and management style which is never followed by any of thier competitors. Although the involvement of innovations might not be accepted in every workplace due to pre-established way of working or due to different management styles but an effort to generate various kind of approach towards being more productive and diversified should be established.

Corporate culture and diversity

In terms of managing employees and serving customers, the term diversity refers to differences between people, including perceptions of differences, that need to be considered in that situation in an organization. These differences may include beliefs, values and an individuals thinking style. Bhadury et al. (2000) also justifies that cultural diversity in an organization may include positive and negative impact ,but nature of impact depends mainly on type of nature in organization than the actual fact of diversity.

In this increasing world of globalisation, diversity is a part of life for an individual and other organization who wants to enhance their living environment. This is especially important for the organizations seeking to grow their business with the organizations which are following different cultures and trends. Also the local business have to be open in order to enhance nations diversity. Culture of an individual cannot be ignored if we consider to develop the economic development of any organization or a place.

Most people would agree that cultural diversity in the workplace utilizes our country's skills to its best , and helps in contributing overall growth and prosperity.  The reality of the situation is that it hasn't happened and progress remains slow.  While we are in the midst of the longest period of economic growth this country has ever seen, the gap between the things happening and not happening have continued to expand. 

The individuals working in the culturally diversified workforce are tend to be more associated with some of the physical(color), biological(e.g., genitalia), or stylistic (e.g, dress) features, though these may not be considered important depending on the peoples perceptive and how they want others to see them in the organization. Members of a cultural identity group deals with more of the worldwide views (Alderfer and Smith, 1982), values, goal priorities and sociocultural heritage(Cox, 1993). It also depends on the way an individual values or expresses a cultural identity at a given time depending on the context within which they operate(Ely, 1995; Larkey, 1996). Hence making it more complex, dynamic and socially constructed. Some of the features helping an organization with the multiculturalism are:

Enhance the organisations productivity and profitability.

Some of the tangible benefits are bought by the activeness of the diversity in the workplace as people are tend to think more productively and contribute more to the management.

Help improve the moral values of individuals

when an individual's ideas and contribution is appreciated or valued, the individuals feel thst they are sharing some worthy information to the organization.

Generate more innovation within the firm.

Sharing and creating more personalised atmosphere for working gives an organisation to work differently thus preventing from the same tradition and technique of working.

One of the reasons for this has been the lack of diversity in corporate world is due to its .   By not developing a diverse workforce from the top down, African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans are unfairly relegated to lower-skilled, lower-pay positions and are not able to fulfill their true potential.  Many corporations have recognized that diversity contributes to the bottom line by:  making it easier to retain good employees, lowering costs by developing skills in-house, and developing a reputation that helps attract new employees.   This is especially important with the economy doing so well, and the demand for skilled labor at record levels.

If you are an African, Hispanic (Latino), or Asian American trying to advance your career, working for a company that values workplace diversity is extremely important.  This will give you a good indication whether your employer will value your contributions, grant you promotions, train you to take on more responsibility, and pay you accordingly.


Identity theories and its implementation at workplace

When the organization theorists turned their attention in to the issues related to the racial and ethnic diversity, much of the research relied upon the work growing out of a structural -functionalists framework dominated by the process of assimilation of those perceived as different (Nkomo 1992). The changes than begin to take place in the early 1960s when the acts such as Race Awareness Training in the US.

Social identity theory, embedded intergroup theory, organization demography and the research on racioethnicity2 and gender have been the dominant theoretical paradigms utilized by organizational scholars to understand diversity in organization. However postmodern and critical theory views of diversity have emerged that present a very different conceptualization and approach to diversity in organizations. Now we shall approach each theory and its importance in the organization.

Social identity theory

We define diversity as mixture of people with different group identities within same social system. This has been an prominent intergroup theories which informs about the group identity and its importance in an organisation and helps to classify individuals into social categories.(Ash Forth and Mael 1989). It has also advanced the conceptualization of identity to :

Identify special contextual influences on identification processes

Identify the importance if two way or reciprocal identification processes between organizational/ workgroup members.

Address more fully the notion that every members of any given social group or category vary in the extent to which identity group membership is a central and salient aspect of their overall self concept.

Embedded intergroup relations theory

Alderfer and Smith (1982) proposed a theory named embedded intergroup relations theory. It posits that two type of groups exists within the organization:

Identity groups: these group members share common biological characteristics (e.g. sex), equivalent historical experiences are subjected to similar social forces and so have a consonant world views.

Organization groups: these are the groups whose members share common organizational positions and participate in equivalent work experiences resulting in relatively consonant world views.

The significance of the embedded intergroup theory for understanding identity is its attention to the effects of diverse identities within a larger organizational context. The identity of an individual in an organization is not only identified by organizational categories but also by the identity group membership. It recognizes that individuals don't leave their racial , gender or ethnic diversities at the door when they enter an organization. These kind of theory will always be relevant in the organization.

Demography :

Group demography research examines group processes and outcomes as a function of a group composition along various dimensions of diversity, including demographics and non visible characteristics such as personality of a person in the organization. Group and relational demography have emerged as perhaps the most dominant paradigm for the empirical study of group and organization diversity in an organization.

In general based on recent empirical demography research , it appears that organizational majority members (i.e white in predominantly white organization )exhibit aversive reaction to increase group diversity, while minority members may not exhibit these negative reactions (e.g. Chattopadhyay 1999).

Racioethnicity and gender:

This suggests that ratioethnicity and gender are important forms of social differentiation shaping the way individuals experience organizations however the study of gender has equalled a focus on women and race has equalled the study of racial minorities.

Postmodern and critical perception on diversity:

Postmodernism takes a very different view of identity. It is conceptualized as a complex, multifaceted and transient construct.

Identity of an individual cannot be measured nominally as an objective property of an individual.

Hall (1992) emphasizes that identity is not stable or fixed but socially and historically constructed and subject to contradiction, revisions and change.

The emphasis of these kind of theories in an organization is on the contingent, fluid and uncertain character of identity.

A postmodern understanding of an identity in an organization focuses on the processes and experiences of identity rather than viewing it as a static and absolute position.

The identification if various kind of identity in an organization is necessary in order to know the basis of an individual and their interest in an organization. It is often referred as cultural diversity begins from within, so knowing an individuals interest is necessary so as to create an creativity and different kind of work force than others in the competitive workforce. Following various identity strategies helps various kind of people to work according to their capabilities. Even sometimes due to the pre-followed norms of an organization being creative or innovations can lead to change the entire working strategy of an organization. These kind of workforce often follow an hierarchical approach in order to achieve their needs. These kind of organization fails to work creatively and lacks innovation in their workforce.

At the end what matters in an organization is how diversity can be managed to eliminate the conflict that diversity brings. In other words, there is much focus on normalizing diversity. Wilmott (1993: 534) suggests 'Cultural diversity is dissolved in the acid bath of corporate values'. Postmodern and critical theory perspectives imply far more radical approaches to changing organizations from structures of exclusion to inclusion.

Culture and innovation

Generally innovation is defined as ' the successful exploitation of new ideas '(DIUS 2008). However innovation in an organization helps to enhance both ideas generation and its commercialisation for the various services (fagerberg et al 2005). An organization helps an idea to be generated and implemented into an process so as to improve the processes which were carried out in an normal way to a totally improved and enhanced way, referred as innovation.

Innovation refers to something that is newly developed or enhanced, like a product or services or an process in organizations. We can rather work on innovations as initiation or implementation of a service into an workplace. Some people always like to think out of the box and come up with new and totally different way of executing a task. Generally a new idea or thought is created and developed in the other phases when the task is being carried out or performed. This kind of workplace gives an organization to work in altogether improved and a different way and create their own strategies which are not similar or used before by any of their competitors.

It is often asked how culture contribute into innovations and the appropriate answer lies in this report. Culture is a factor that an individual learns in their initial ages and the trend or the pattern if such culture is followed throughout their lifetime in various situations they come across. Most definition of culture used currently in the social sciences are changes of Taylor's delineation of the concept as " that concept which involves belief, knowledge, morals, values and other capabilities acquired by a man as a member of society"( Buonoet al, 1985).

The fact that culture is harder to pin down, culture and ethnicity are 'concept - driven social and psychological concepts' whose meaning may vary as society evolves.(Aspinall 2009)

Overview of the present situation

Keeping the theory generation in mind, we try and focus on how the organization is beneficial or not from the implementation of a culturally diversified workforce. We identified the intermediate outcomes within a culturally diversified workforce might include some of the better or affective outputs for the organization including (1) the way in which people of different race are treated. (2) the extent to which individuals feel valued and the way in which the co-workers and top authority behave with them. (3) How an individual's ideas and approach towards an task is approached in an organization. Going through the present situations like that of the financial firms, architectural firms and also the non profitable firms we came to know that some of the organizations are beneficial with an diversified workforce and some of them are not. It although depends largely on the way in which an organization carries out their management approach.

There are so many different languages used daily in London on a daily basis, and culture is represented by having its own speciality shops, restaurant and some or the other fashionable outlets. There are many races and nationalities living in London, but also the generation keeps on evolving giving rise to enhanced features and changes into the way of living. Shops and stores display their cultures by the way of their behaviour and the surroundings in their shops. Thus people learn by experiences of the service offered to them by the different stores and places they often visit.

The economy of Russia started focusing more on setting an environment of globalization by including foreign entrepreneurs and thus presented a totally good quality for western countries while tsking into consideration the workforce strategy (Michailova, 2000:2/17) Camiah and Hollinshead (2003) which displays an excellent relation between the top authority of Russian managers and their other members from the Western countries.Other inclusion of the cultural diversity in an organization is the case of Maybelline who tried to achieve taking over more than 41 per cent of the ethnic cosmetic market with the help of involvement of different employees from Spain, Asia, America in order to improve the strategy for products and marketing towards new trends in market( Boone and Kurtz, 1999).



Our research showed how three diversity perspectives differentially affected the functioning of culturally diverse work groups. The crucial dimension along which the three diversity perspectives varied was whether and how cultural diversity was linked to the group's work and work processes. In the integration-and-learning perspective, cultural diversity is a potentially valuable resource that the organization can use, not only at its margins, to gain entree into previously inaccessible niche markets, but at its core, to rethink and reconfigure its primary tasks as well. It is based on the assumption that cultural differences give rise to different life experiences, knowledge, and insights, which can inform alternative views about work and how best to accomplish it. In the work groups we studied that embraced this perspective, this view of the role of racial diversity encouraged group members to discuss openly their different points of view because differences--including those explicitly linked to cultural experience--were valued as opportunities for learning. This process communicated to all employees that they were valued and respected and encouraged them to value and express themselves as members of their racial identity groups. These aspects of the way they functioned afforded opportunities for cross-cultural learning, which enhanced the group's work.

In the access-and-legitimacy perspective, cultural diversity is a potentially valuable resource, but only at the organization's margins and only to gain access to and legitimacy with a diverse market. In the work groups we studied that embraced this perspective, this view of the role of racial diversity led to race-based staffing patterns that matched the racial make-up of the markets they served. This fostered perceptions of white-staffed functions as higher status than functions staffed by people of color; racially segregated career tracks and opportunities, which fostered concerns among staff of color about the degree to which they were valued and respected; and ambivalence on the part of people of color about the meaning and significance of their racial identity at work. The resulting interracial/interfunctional tensions appeared to inhibit learning and people's ability to be maximally effective in their work.

Finally, in the discrimination-and-fairness perspective, cultural diversity is a mechanism for ensuring equal opportunity, fair treatment, and an end to discrimination; it articulates no link at all between cultural diversity and the group's work and, in fact, espouses a color-blind strategy for managing employees and employee relations. In the work groups that embraced this perspective, this view of the role of racial diversity restricted the discourse about race to one in which employees negotiated the meaning of all race-related differences on moral grounds. Questions and concerns about fairness led inevitably to strained race relations characterized by competing claims of innocence, with each group assuming a defensive posture in relation to the other (Steele, 1990). Racial identity thus became a source of apprehension for white people and feelings of powerlessness for many people of color. This made it difficult for people to bring all relevant skills and insights to bear on their work, thus compromising their ability to learn from one another and to be maximally effective.


Our research makes three theoretical contributions. First, we provide a social theory of how work groups make sense of their cultural diversity and how this shapes members' identity, intergroup relations, and the conduct of work. A central construct of the theory is a group's diversity perspective. A diversity perspective provides the cognitive frames within which group members interpret and act upon their experience of cultural identity differences in the group. Using these frames, members of culturally diverse work groups collectively construct and participate in intercultural identity group relations within the group, which influences members' sense of how much others in the group value and respect them, as well as their sense of what their own cultural identity means at work. These group processes and member experiences in turn have implications for the group's capacity for learning and adaptive change in its work and thus for members' sense of self- and group efficacy. Although the research literature contains speculation about the motivations an organization may have for diversifying its workforce, some of which resonate with the different perspectives on diversity we identified, it neither develops them nor recognizes them as among the "untested subjective concepts" that may intervene between the demographic composition of groups, on the one hand, and their effectiveness, on the other (Lawrence, 1997: 20). When a work group views cultural differences among its members as an important resource for learning how best to accomplish its core work, group members can negotiate expectations, norms, and assumptions about work in service of their goals, and conflicts that arise are settled by a process of joint inquiry (Argyris and Schön, 1978). In work groups in which it is legitimate for group members to bring all of their relevant knowledge and experience to bear on the core work of the group--including knowledge and experience that is linked to their cultural identity-members are more likely to feel valued and respected in the group and to receive more validation for their cultural self-identities (Tyler and Lind, 1992). This heightens group members' feelings of effectiveness (Lind and Tyler, 1988) and motivation to achieve (Hackman, 1992). Moreover, because these groups are inquiry-oriented, rather than competitive, and characterized by a high degree of trust, risk taking, and psychological safety, there are greater opportunities for competency-enhancing cross-cultural learning (Argyris and Schön, 1978; Edmondson, 1999). By contrast, when a work group views cultural differences as having the potential to make only a marginal or negative contribution to work, the dominant cultural group likely defines the prevailing expectations, norms, and assumptions about work, and conflicts, if not suppressed, are settled by power. Groups that do not authorize members to use their cultural experiences as a resource for learning convey mixed messages at best about the degree to which all members and cultural identities are valued, creating tension, competitiveness, and distrust in the group. This impedes learning and limits members' sense of self- and group efficacy. These observations are consistent with research that suggests that a work group's success often hinges on members' ability to engage differences in knowledge bases and perspectives (Bailyn, 1993; Jehn, Northcraft, and Neale, 1999) and to embrace, experience, and manage, rather than avoid, disagreements that arise (Gruenfeld et al., 1996; Jehn, 1997). Previous theorizing (e.g., Cox, 1993) notwithstanding, our findings suggest that cultural diversity in the senior ranks of an organization, which existed in all three of the firms in our sample, is not sufficient to produce the kind of shift in power relations that enables these constructive group processes to occur.

Second, our research shows how organizations mediate the impact of larger social processes on organizational functioning (Zucker, 1987). In contrast to the distribution of power between racial groups in society, all three of the organizations in our study had significant numbers of people of color in positions of power, yet their different work group perspectives on diversity suggested different strategies for managing this situation, which in turn had different consequences both for the balance of power between racial groups inside the organization and for the work group's functioning. The assimilationist strategies adopted by work groups that embraced either the discrimination-and-fairness or the access-and-legitimacy perspective seemed simply to replicate asymmetric power relations between racial groups in the larger society, inhibiting effective functioning. By contrast, the integrationist strategies adopted by work groups that embraced the integration-and-learning perspective seemed to foster more symmetric relations of power as well as more effective functioning. In making these connections, we extend the growing literature on organizational demography, which has begun to recognize and highlight the distribution of power within organizations as an important demographic variable moderating the impact of societal conditions on organizational behavior (Ely, 1994, 1995; Ragins, 1997; Lau and Murnighan, 1998; Thomas, 1999) to include work groups' perspective on their demographic make-up as well.

Third, our research suggests that just as some organizations attempting to diversify have done so from a discrimination-and-fairness perspective on diversity, so, too, has much of the organizational literature assumed this perspective in its approach to understanding diversity. Both in organizations and in organizational research, this perspective has been limiting. For example, scholars implicitly take a discrimination-and-fairness perspective on diversity when they characterize cultural aspects of identity, such as race and gender, as high on the dimension of visibility and low on the dimension of job-relatedness in explaining the negative effects of diversity on group functioning (e.g., Pelled, 1996; Jehn, Chadwick, and Thatcher, 1997). These scholars typically posit that because these characteristics are easily observable, they are more accessible as a basis for categorization and hence are more likely than less visible differences to motivate intergroup bias and feelings of hostility, anxiety, and frustration (Tsui, Egan, and O'Reilly, 1992; Strangor et al., 1992; Pelled, 1996). Furthermore, they posit that because these characteristics are not job-related--"they do not reflect task perspectives and technical skills" (Pelled, 1996: 619)--they do not spark "disagreements about task issues including the nature and importance of task goals and key decision areas, procedures for task accomplishment, and the appropriate choice for action" (Pelled, 1996: 620). Consistent with the discrimination-and-fairness perspective, this approach assumes that aspects of identity such as race and gender are relevant only insofar as they trigger others' negative reactions; they are therefore a potential source of negative intergroup conflict to be avoided in service of the task. By contrast, the socially constructed view of cultural identity we take in this research recognizes the role social context plays in shaping what is both visible and job-related and gives at least as much weight to the meaning people attribute to their own demographic characteristics as to the meaning they attribute to others'. This approach enabled us to identify constructive possibilities for the role of cultural identity precluded by approaches with a more static conception of identity.

These contributions aside, our research raises a number of questions concerning issues researchers should consider and the methodologies they use to investigate diversity dynamics and group functioning. First, although we would hope our results might generalize to organizations interested in benefiting from a culturally diverse workforce, our sample is not representative of all such organizations on a number of potentially important dimensions. Perhaps the most relevant dimension that differentiates the organizations in our sample from many others is that they are all driven by social and economic goals related in one way or another to communities of color, which likely explains their interest in cultural diversity in the first place. We have no data from this study to assess directly whether or how firms whose mission is not so readily linked to diversity would reap the benefits we found to be associated with the integration-and-learning perspective. We suspect, however, that even in firms in which the work content is less obviously related to the cultural competencies afforded by a culturally diverse work group, the insights and perspectives of such a group can nevertheless inform its work processes, as they did in the work groups we observed that adopted an integration-and-learning perspective. Another factor that differentiates the organizations in our sample from others to which we would like to generalize our results is that they were all relatively successful in their affirmative action attempts; all had achieved significant levels of diversity in hierarchical and functional positions traditionally occupied by white men. Thus, it remains unclear whether or how diversity perspectives influence firms that have yet to achieve these levels or in which educational and occupational status distinctions fall along cultural identity lines, as they currently do in most organizations. Further research should explore whether and how the diversity perspectives we identified--and/or others--have helped other organizations to recruit and retain high levels of workforce diversity and with what consequences. These efforts should include research in organizations that, unlike those in our sample, are more purely profit-driven or, at least, less driven by social and economic goals explicitly related to communities of color and in organizations that have achieved varying degrees of success in their efforts to diversify.

Second, our data collection design allowed us to generate rather than test theory. The connections we propose here among the constructs we identified are, therefore, necessarily speculative. We are unable to determine what role, if any, contextual factors that happened to covary with diversity perspectives may have played in producing either the group processes and individual experiences we observed or the different levels of functioning we associated with them. Two such factors, which may be confounded with diversity perspectives, are the size and status composition of the work groups. The groups in which we observed the integration-and-learning perspective, in both the law and financial services firms, were small--four and seven people, respectively--and relatively homogeneous with respect to members' professional status. It may be that in small work groups, especially those in which members are of similar status, the problems caused by diversity are more easily overcome (Lau and Murnighan, 1998). Clearly, the hypothesis our research points to--that a work group's perspective on the role of cultural diversity mediates the impact of that diversity on its functioning--remains to be tested and refined with other samples of organizations. The group processes and individual experiences we propose here as the mediating factors that link the group's diversity perspective to its functioning also require further empirical investigation, and researchers need to learn more about how those factors work in different organizational settings.

Third, among the groups we observed, we found three perspectives. After initially defining the diversity perspective construct, we were open to finding additional perspectives when we returned to the data to conduct a more thorough content analysis, but we did not find any. Nevertheless, there may well be additional perspectives or groups in which no single perspective prevails but where, instead, there are hybrid or competing perspectives. At this point, we are unable to speculate further about these possibilities but recommend being open to them in future research. To assess a group's diversity perspective, it is necessary to collect data from at least a representative cross-section of the group's members.[4] Researchers should aim to assess not only the group's externally espoused values and beliefs but those that are internally enacted as well--its basic assumptions, which often remain concealed or unconscious (Stein, 1984; Barley, 1991; Martin, 1992). We recommend our method of observing behavioral interactions among group members from which one can infer normative beliefs and content analyzing responses to open-ended interview questions.[5]

Finally, we need to learn more about how and under what conditions work groups develop and change their perspectives on diversity and, in particular, how they change to the more promising one of integration and learning. Our casual and systematic observations of many organizations suggest that both the discrimination-and-fairness and the access-and-legitimacy perspectives are more common than the integration-and-learning perspective. More theoretical and empirical development is needed to understand fully the integration-and-learning perspective's potential for connecting organizations' cultural diversity to their core work and work processes. With such theory, organizations will be better positioned to gain the promised benefits of cultural diversity.

The order of authorship bears no relation to the authors' relative contribution to the ideas in this paper; they produced the ideas in full collaboration. This research was funded by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Harvard Business School Division of Research. We are grateful to our colleagues in the FSC Research Group--Elaine Backman, Herminia Ibarra, Maureen Scully, and Kathleen Valley--for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. We also thank Pamela Ellis, Russell Peace, Dalia Radley-Kingsley, and Rose Miller for their assistance with data collection. Finally, we thank Linda Johanson, Rod Kramer, Joe Porac, and the anonymous ASQ reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.