Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Diversity and Managerial Value Commitment: A Test of Some Proposed Relationships

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Diversity and Managerial Value Commitment: A Test of Some Proposed Relationships

Article excerpt

In recent years, many U.S. companies have become more aggressive in their push to create diversity in their management cadre (Anfuso, 1995; Greenslade, 1991; Munk, 1998; Thomas, 1990; Thomas and Ely, 1996). For the most part, these companies' definition of diversity has been limited to race and gender (Hall and Parker, 1993; Jung and Avolio, 1999; Overmeyer-Day, 1995). In the present study our focus on diversity is limited to race, particularly African American male and female managers (hereafter referred to as minority managers) and white male managers.

Many U.S. companies are creating this type of diversity by introducing initiatives designed to recruit, promote, and retain minority managers. As a result, these managers are reportedly feeling optimistic about their professional futures in Corporate America (Branch, 1998). Because minority managers perceive that they are the primary beneficiaries of organizational commitment to diversity, we argue in this article that there may be a positive association between the degree to which these managers are committed to organizations and the degree to which organizations are committed to diversity.

In contrast, research (cf. Bobo and Kluegel, 1993; Dass and Parker, 1999; DiTomaso and Farris, 1992; Fagenson, 1993) suggests that organizations' efforts to aggressively recruit, hire, promote, and retain minority managers may result in white male managers holding more negative attitudes toward their appraisal systems, perceiving there to be fewer opportunities for advancement, and feeling less committed to their work. Suggested by this line of research is the idea that there may be a negative association between the degree to which white male managers are committed to organizations and the degree to which organizations are committed to diversity.

Essentially, the theoretical issue we address in this study is that of "psychological contracts," or the unwritten agreement that exists between an individual and the organization when undertaking terms of employment (Rousseau, 1995; Schein, 1980). On the one hand, research cited in this study suggests that white male managers are likely to perceive that by demonstrating a commitment to diversity, organizations may not be fulfilling the psychological contract. On the other hand, the research we cite suggests that minority managers may perceive that organizations are more than fulfilling the psychological contract because of their commitment to diversity.

Very little (if any) empirical work has focused on associations between organizational commitment to diversity and the commitment of white male and minority managers to organizations. These associations are examined in the present study. The degree to which these associations are mediated by the degree to which white male and minority managers perceive their psychological contracts are being fulfilled by organizations is also examined. A better understanding of these associations will not only facilitate efforts designed to reduce or eliminate negative attachments to such associations, but findings should make a significant contribution to the literature by offering additional insights into the underlying sources of managerial commitment to organizations within the context of organizational commitment to diversity.

In the next few sections of this article we examine direct and indirect associations between organizational commitment to diversity and managerial commitment to organizations. A statement of the related hypotheses fdllows discussions of these associations. This article concludes with a discussion of research results, implications for managerial practice, and directions for future research.

STUDY BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESES

Diversity Commitment

As one reviews the relevant literature, the extent to which U.S. organizations are committed to diversity becomes evident. As a way of demonstrating their level of commitment, many organizations are creating high-level management positions to coordinate their diversity efforts, setting formal diversity goals, and tying managerial rewards to measurable achievement of these goals (Anfuso, 1995; Greenslade, 1991; Overmeyer-Day, 1995). …

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