Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Preparing Business Students for the Multi-Cultural Work Environment of the Future: A Teaching Agenda

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Preparing Business Students for the Multi-Cultural Work Environment of the Future: A Teaching Agenda

Article excerpt

Through the review of numerous studies, the authors argue that effective management of diversity in organizational environments can be used by companies for achieving competitive advantage and gaining strategic advantage in an increasingly global economic setting and market place. This paper further explores the proposition that global business workforces of today are blended and that managing those groups effectively will benefit the bottom line as noted in Esty, Griffin, & Hirsch (1997). The authors note that while there are a variety of benefits from having a diverse employee workforce, simply embracing the concept of diversity does not guarantee success. Finally, the authors propose diversity curricula - Diversity as a Strategic Advantage, Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce, Cultural Explorations in Global Business, Managing in a Multi-Cultural Context, and Leveraging Diverse Community Partnerships- to inculcate students with specific diversity competencies, such as, building frameworks for recruitment and retention of diverse employee demographics, practical methods for developing culturally sensitive marketing campaigns, and understanding how those cultures may impact the bottom line.

Introduction

In the decades since the 1960's as global economies have grown increasingly diverse and technologically integrated, public policy and corporate workforce decisions have increasingly reflected attention to the impact of immigration on labor productivity and economic output. This increased attention to immigration has given rise to the view of diversity as an important component of organizational success based on the assimilation approach which considers the United States as a melting pot of diverse people from different nations, cultures, and backgrounds, with differing characteristics and varying skill sets. The metaphor of the melting pot implied that immigrants should become culturally indistinguishable from everyone else in order to be appropriately assimilated into the economy and within the organizations in which they participate (Lockwood, 1999). Until recently, it was a commonly held belief that immigrants should assimilate into the culture of their new home country, and leave their own culture and heritage behind.

The melting pot metaphor, however, is outdated and in need of revision. This ethnocentric view is not only damaging to immigrant populations and minority groups, but it also limits organizational and workforce performance as well as overall economic output. According to Griffin and Moorhead, 'Today, instead of a melting pot, the workplace in the United States is regarded as more of a 'tossed salad' made up of different flavors, colors, and textures' (Griffin & Moorhead, 2007).

Rather than assimilating employees in their own corporate culture, organizations should utilize the unique differences of their diverse workforce as a strategic advantage. Thus organizations should go beyond what is required by the law and what is encouraged by social justice, to fully integrate every member into their corporate culture and leverage the strategic advantage diversity capital provides.

Effectively managing diversity allows a company to be more successful and to achieve competitive advantage over others who do not. In order to be successful in managing diversity, organizations must create a company culture that empowers people to be respectful, inclusive, and use their knowledge to expand the company's knowledge base (Lockwood, 2005). Conversely, if managers do not know how to manage diversity, organizational effectiveness is injeopardy (Hubbard, 2007). This inability to effectively manage the diverse organizational environment would essentially limit the ability of firms to embrace the innovation that is absolutely essential for developing and maintaining sustainable competitive advantage in a global economy and market place that requires innovative product and service delivery processes and systems. …

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