Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Diversity Management in the Public Sector: Moving from Hobbyism toward Integration an Exploratory Case Study in the Netherlands

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Diversity Management in the Public Sector: Moving from Hobbyism toward Integration an Exploratory Case Study in the Netherlands

Article excerpt

In the current debate on diversity management, we find that most attention is focused on three areas: 1. What is diversity?; 2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of diversity for organizations?; 3. What are the instruments we can use in order to introduce and manage diversity in organizations? Many of the research in this area tends to have an instrumental approach, focuses on a series of tools that managers can use in this area and they are usually the personnel manager which are seen as key figures in diversity management. (1) However, what we find lacking in research so far are in-depth case-studies which actually study the historical development over a period of decades within an organization. Moreover, most studies on diversity focus on the situation in the U.S. or the U.K.. In this study, we propose to fill this gap in research by studying in detail the development of diversity policy in a large public organization over a period of two decades. We do this by way of an exploratory, in-depth case study of ethnic diversity policy in the IRS in the Netherlands. We describe and analyze the changes in diversity policy over a period of some twenty years, we show the pitfalls the IRS has encountered and how diversity policy gradually moved from hobbyism towards an integrated policy. We hope to provide not only detailed information on how diversity policy evolved in one specific organization in the Netherlands, but also to provide a general model for the development of diversity policy and to point out the dilemmas that underlie the introduction and implementation of diversity policy within organizations. Finally, in presenting a detailed and narrative account of diversity policy within the IRS, we also aim at re-humanizing research on diversity policy and give voice to the respondents that are directly involved in this. We continue our paper by describing the methodology of this research and the general context of the multicultural society in the Netherlands, which form the background of diversity policy in the Netherlands, after which we present the findings of our research.

Methodology

The research has been conducted along the lines of a case study in the IRS in the Netherlands. It aims at providing detailed descriptions of the development of diversity policy within the IRS, in order to better understand the meanings and processes that underlie diversity policy within organizations. A case study generally provides a depth of data that questionnaires or surveys do not readily provide, and requires an approach in which observation, detailed description and contextuality are important. The IRS has been chosen as a case study, because it is a large organization (over thirty thousand employees) which has shown a gradual change in its personnel over the last years. From a traditional white, male organization it has become more diversified and the top of the organization has committed itself to implementing diversity policy. The research has been conducted according to the standards of case study research. (2) Methodical triangulation was applied, using a set of different techniques in collecting data: interviews, participant observation and document and literature study.

Interviews were held with managers, staff and employees, both of Dutch and foreign origin. The interviews took place in the workplace, throughout the country and the organization. Selection took place with the help of key figures, the network of regional HRM personnel and the national expertise centres on diversity of the IRS. The compliance rate was very high (less than five percent declined), which may be due to the fact that respondents were approached on an individual basis, that the aim of research was explained fully and that the research was completely confidential and supported by the top management. The interviews were taped with the interviewees' consent and were approved of by the interviewees after transcription. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.