Multicultural Matters

By Clark, Christine | Multicultural Education, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Multicultural Matters

Clark, Christine, Multicultural Education

Multicultural Education and Multicultural Organizational Development


Multicultural organizational development (MCOD) may be described as the application of the goals and objectives of multicultural education to the "curriculum" of work. That is, MOOD seeks to challenge the Eurocentric or White, Anglo Saxon, Protestant partiality that defines the "mainstream" workplace in terms of: (1) who works there, at what levels, and in what roles; (2) how work is secured, structured, and organized, inclusive of where the physical work environment is located, what it looks like, and how it is equipped; (3) how work is completed, assessed, and/ or evaluated; (4) toward what ends (the product or service) work is done; (5) how decisions about work are made and by whom; (6) how missions, policies, and practices for work are developed and implemented and by whom; (7) how and what languages are used and/or how communication is articulated at and in work; (8) how interaction norms are characterized in the workplace; and, (9) how psychosocial and sociopolitical dynamics are understood in the workplace.

In essence, MCOD speaks to the "culture" of work and/or the work environment, and the impact of this culture on the action of working; that is, the inherent hidden and covert biases, prejudices, and discriminatory propensities at the level of both thought and action. The MCOD focus in the workplace is similar to the multicultural education focus in the classroom: (1) the content ofwork-what work is done; (2) the pedagogy of work-the processes by which work is done; (3) the evaluation of work-its supervision and execution and the role of resources and relationships in both; and (4) the commitment of the work to social justice in the creation of products and/or delivery of services, vis-avis personal and institutional power dynamics operating in society, as these are related to: race; ethnicity; language; geographic origin; socioeconomic class background; sex and gender; sexual orientation; religious or spiritual affiliation; physical, developmental, and psychiatric ability status; age and generation; physical appearance; and, environmental concern.2

Modes of MCOD

There are many models of organizational development that address various aspects of multiculturalism.3 Examples of these models can be found in: various groups' social or revolutionary movements,4 feminist organizations,5 grassroots social justice-oriented groups,6 private non-profit agencies,7 alternative schools,8 and, nontraditional political parties.9 These models generally share the organizational characteristics of being less or non-hierarchical,10 or more or completely collaborative, cooperative, and consensual.11 They challenge the ways in which we typically (i.e., Eurocentrically) organize ourselves at all levels in most, if not all families, classrooms, schools, communities, communitybased workplaces, service-oriented workplaces, and product-driven workplaces.

In so doing, they beg, among others, the questions: How much is enough? Does, for example, one individual really need forty billion dollars? Should insurance companies control healthcare decisions, turning health maintenance into sickness management? And, should there be restrictions on, penalties for, and/or elimination of corporate capital flight?

Jackson and Holvino (1986) identify organizations based on their membership, missions, policies, and practices, as being in one of six stages of MCOD: Exclusionary, White Male Club, Equal Opportunity Compliance, Affirmative Action, Redefining, and Multicultural.

An organization in the Exclusionary Stage has a membership that includes only White men who, in the most extreme exclusionary organizations are also often only Anglo Saxon, native English speaking, Westernized and East Coast geographically oriented, wealthy, heterosexual, ablebodied, Christian (specifically Protestant), reasonably thin and attractive, 21-55 years of age, and environmentally indifferent or hostile. …

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Multicultural Matters


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