Academic journal article Management Revue

Diversity Strategies Focused on Employees with a Migration Background: An Empirical Investigation Based on Resource Dependence Theory**

Academic journal article Management Revue

Diversity Strategies Focused on Employees with a Migration Background: An Empirical Investigation Based on Resource Dependence Theory**

Article excerpt

In our paper, we develop a typology of diversity strategies through combining elements of strategy research, diversity research, and resource dependence theory. We focus on the question why people with a migration background are (not) employed by organizations. We argue that employment decisions are based on the evaluation of critical resources and the quest to secure their accrual. We identify six diversity strategies, designate each by the importance of respective resources, and derive propositions regarding their relation to competitive strategies. We confront these propositions with empirical data stemming from 500 companies. Correspondence analyses reveal various relationships between diversity and competitive strategies and moderating effects of the company size and the industrial sector. In addition, the robustness of our typology is demonstrated.

Key words: diversity, migration background, employment strategies, resource dependence theory, correspondence analysis

1. Introduction

In this paper, we use Pfeffer's and Salancik's (1978) resource dependence theory in order to answer the question why people with a migration background are (not) employed in organizations. The perspective on resource dependencies allows us to classify respective resources which may be accrued through their (non)employment and to derive respective diversity strategies. In our theoretical framework, we also build on related concepts of diversity research that describe different approaches to managing diversity. However, for each of these approaches, the respective authors resort to different arguments. For instance, Ely and Thomas (2001) adduce ethical reasons for an emphasis on discrimination and fairness, and a quest for innovation for a perspective on the integration of and learning from diverse employees. In contrast, by building our arguments on resource dependence theory, we are able to give one single, systematic answer to the question why people with a migration background are (not) employed. That is, which diversity strategy is chosen depends on the intent to accrue critical resources and to reduce dependencies from resource providers. We intend to contribute an innovative approach to the research on diversity strategies, particularly those directed toward employees with a migration background.

Nearly two decades ago, Nkomo and Cox (1990) described racial and ethnic minorities as "invisible men and women" in U.S. management research. Whereas Proudford and Nkomo (2006) detect some progress in their overview of research on race in organizations, they also point to open questions, for instance, to the need for studies in non-U.S. contexts. In our research project, from which this paper originates, we focus on personnel structures and practices in German organizations. Here as well, the cultural or ethnic mixture of the workforce has been labeled a "blind spot" in management research (Bissels et al. 2001), and it still may be regarded as such in many respects. Unlike U.S. researchers, who mainly refer to race and ethnicity, in this paper we follow recent German studies and labor market statistics referring to migration background. The concept of migration background broadens the traditional focus on citizenship (and "foreigners") in that it includes also naturalized people, resetders (ethnic Germans who stem from, for example, Eastern Europe), and their descendents.1

In 2005, 15.3 million people with a migration background lived in Germany, representing 18.6 percent of the German population. Among all employees subject to (compulsory) social insurance, 24.4 percent had a migration background. From trends like the demographic change or the globally increasing migration, we may infer that this proportion will rise in the near future.

In the academic as well as in the public debate, the following two dominant streams form the discourse on people with a migration background: the first discourse stream centers on the problems coinciding with the employment of migrants, as, for example, the research on the former "guest workers" recruited by the Federal Republic of Germany and the corresponding integration problems (Gaugler et al. …

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