The Passing of the Torch Down Under
Charmine E. J. Hrtel
University of Queensland, Australia
This year sees not just the passing of the torch down under at the Olympics,
but also in the hand-off of this column to my colleagues, Professor Boris
Kabanoff and Dr. Mark Griffin at Queensland University of Technology here
in Brisbane, Australia.
Kurt Kraiger initiated the column as Vantage 2000 to address the
anticipated demographic shifts in the U.S. workforce forecast and publicized in
such books as Workforce 2000. I continued the focus on diversity issues, and
signaled with the name change of the column to Global Vision my hope of
broadening the column to include pluralistic and international perspectives and
contributions regarding research, teaching and professional practice. I am
pleased to hand the column over to Boris and Mark, whose extensive international
exposure and professional involvement will serve to bring to you a worldwide
perspective on work and organizational psychology.
It certainly has been one of my aims in this column to showcase research and
practice from around the world and highlight contributions to work psychology
from areas beyond U.S. borders. Boris and Mark will advance the mission of Global
Vision to be a forum for discussing international developments and
perspectives in work and organizational psychology. If you would like to
contribute to future editions of this column, please contact either Boris or
Mark at the addresses at the end of this article.
Diversity and HR Policies and Programs
This, my last column, will showcase research and theory relating to diversity
and HR policies and programs straddling two continents. These studies highlight
the new directions in HR relating to internationalization and increasing
diversity. Each paper has implications for views, research, and practice
relating to HR and diversity.
Diversity: How We Define It and How We View It Are Important
Considerations in the Design and Implementation of Organizational Diversity
Policies and Practices
Frank Linnehan of Drexel University and Alison Konrad of Temple University in
the U.S. recently sent me a copy of their paper, which admonishes those of us
involved in diversity practice or research to take care in how we define
diversity (Linnehan & Konrad, 1999). One of the key points they make is that
power inequalities among groups underlie some of the most challenging problems
arising in diverse workforces. Addressing intergroup differences in power, they
argue, is undermined when practitioners and researchers alike define diversity
broadly as individual differences among people. Second, similar to the point
made by Art Brief in an article discussed in the January 1999 issue of
this column, issues of racism and discrimination are rarely being considered in
the dialogue about diversity. Although it is fine to point out the economic
gains that can be achieved through diversity, this should not overshadow or
replace discussions of negative stereotyping. Third, programs designed for
groups unequal in power are being diluted, they argue, by concerns about members
outside those groups. I found a number of thought-provoking ideas in the paper,
which I have used to modify my own discourse on diversity (e.g., Hrtel and
Fujimoto, in press). I certainly would urge any persons whose work involves
diversity issues to read this article and reflect on their own ways of
conceptualizing diversity and the messages conveyed in the design and
implementation of organizational diversity policies and practices.
Affirmative Action Program Management
Dennis Doverspike, at the University of Akron, sent me a number of
publications he has coauthored, which relate to factors influencing the
perceptions and effectiveness of affirmative action programs. Some of Dennis's
research addresses the effects of affirmative action policies on beneficiaries'
experiences and attitudes. In one article, the point is made that affirmative
action programs that do not emphasize merit can result in co-workers having a
diminished view of the beneficiary's ability (Taylor-Carter, Doverspike, &
Cook, 1996). Moreover, the lack of a merit emphasis can lead to lowered
self-confidence and ability devaluation by beneficiaries. A number of remedies
are offered in this article, which aim to help practitioners manage affirmative
action programs in ways that avoid negatively affecting the organization's
ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce. One remedy advocated is
management support and enforcement of affirmative action programs. Another
recommendation is that education and communication concerning diversity programs
should emphasize the goal of overcoming low representation of minorities
stemming from past discriminatory practices without compromising qualifications
standards. Interventions are required, they argue, that aim to change negative
stereotypes. Publicizing the success of employees affected by affirmative action
programs and diversity training programs are two suggested remedies for negative
stereotyping. Social support networks, mentoring programs, and positive feedback
are suggested as ways of maintaining beneficiaries' work-related self-esteem.
In another article, it is suggested that data on the inequities in the
organization be included as part of the education effort regarding affirmative
action programs (Taylor-Carter, Doverspike, & Cook, 1995). Providing a
context for the affirmative action program is argued to be an important means of
reducing resistance to the program.
Identification and Consequences of Individual Differences in the Ability
to Relate to a Diverse Workforce
I first began looking at the attitudes of individuals towards diverse others
in 1993. In a study with then master's student Rick Trumble, we developed and
examined the proposition that individuals differed in the degree to which their
decision making regarding other employees involved nonjob-relevant (as compared
with job-relevant) factors (Hrtel & Trumble, 1997). Work began at that
time on a measure to assess individuals' general cultural openness, ranging from
what was coined as "diversity-openness" to "diversity-closedness."
Shortly after this study, I worked with then master's student Shane Douthitt
in a refinement of this measure and an assessment of its predictive ability in
organizational decision making. Our research showed that discriminatory
performance ratings were predicted by the level of diversity openness of the
rater, with higher levels of openness being associated with more equitable
ratings (Hrtel, Douthitt, Hrtel, & Douthitt, 1999). Shane has continued
working with this idea. Currently, he is completing his PhD at the University of
Georgia, which involves the development and validation of a biodata measure of
receptivity to dissimilar others. Description of the development as well as the
actual measure can be obtained in Shane's recent publication in The
International Journal of Selection and Assessment (Douthitt, Eby, &
Simon, 1999). My recent work in this area includes theoretical and empirical
developments relating to openness to dissimilarity as a mediating variable of
diversity effects in organizations with PhD student Yuka Fujimoto (Fujimoto, Hrtel,
Hrtel, & Baker, in press; Hrtel, Fujimoto, & Hrtel, in press; Hrtel
& Fujimoto, 1999).
HR in Australia: Findings From A National Survey of Senior HR Managers
Cathy Fisher and Peter Dowling, both of the University of Tasmania, report on
findings from a national survey of HR directors from 322 public and private
sector organizations (Fisher & Dowling, 1999). From the perspective of these
respondents, the most significant changes to HR in Australia in the last 5 years
have been the focus on HR policy integration and strategy, the move toward a
collaborative employer_employee relationship, and the contribution of HR to
company performance. Interestingly, the same three issues were nominated as the
most significant issues for HR in Australia in the next 5 years. Other nominated
areas affecting the future activities of HR departments were
internationalization, technology, performance management, and outsourcing.
Respondents were also asked to nominate important new policy initiatives in
their organizations in the last 5 years. Common to most of the organizations
were new policies, programs, and systems in the areas of performance appraisal,
recruitment, and training and development.
Final Comments of the Outgoing Editor
In concluding my editorial role in this column, which has spanned the last 8
years, I would like to say thank you to all those persons who have sent in
contributions or whose work I have showcased in this column. I hope that the
column has stimulated you, as it has me, to reflect upon personal values,
approaches, and beliefs regarding work and the field of organizational
psychology. I also hope that the column has, in some way, contributed to SIOP
becoming more international in its consideration and coverage of research and
practice in work and organizational psychology. The diversity of research and
practice presented in this column have been good reminders that organizational
research and practice are shaped by the history and contemporary nature of the
social-political, cultural, legal, philosophical, and economic systems within
which it is undertaken.
Column Mission and Call for Contributions for Upcoming Columns
My aim of the column serving as a forum for discussing within a global
framework the future of practice and research related to work and the workplace
will continue, and no doubt be extended, under Boris and Mark's editorship. As
have preceding editors of this column, they will need your input to grow the
column. So, I hope that no matter where you are in the world, you will e-mail,
call, write or fax either of them with your suggestions, views, requests and
contributions. Boris and Mark's contact details are: Faculty of Business,
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland 4000, Australia;
e-mail: email@example.com Phone:
+61 7 3864-2944; FAX: +61 7 3864-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +61 7 3864-1766; FAX: +61 7 3864-1766.
Douthitt, S. S., Eby, L. T., & Simon, S. A. (1999). Diversity of life
experiences: The development and validation of a biographical measure of
receptiveness to dissimilar others. The International Journal of Selection
and Assessment, 7(2), 112
Fisher, C. & Dowling, P. J. (1999). Support for an HR approach in
Australia: The perspective of senior HR managers. Asia Pacific Journal of
Human Resources, 37(1), 1-19.
Fujimoto, Y., Hrtel, C. E. J., Hrtel, G. F., & Baker, N. J. (in
press). A field test of the diversity-openness moderator model in
well-established groups: Diversity has affective, behavioural, and cognitive
consequences and openness to dissimilarity moderates these consequences. Asia
Pacific Journal of Human Resources.
Hrtel, C. E. J., Douthitt, S., Hrtel, G. F., & Douthitt, S. (1999).
Equally qualified but unequally perceived: General cultural openness as a
predictor of discriminatory performance ratings. Human Resource Development
Quarterly, 10(1), 79-89.
Hrtel, C. E. J. & Fujimoto, Y. (in press). Diversity is not a problem
to be managed by organisations but openness to perceived dissimilarity is. Journal
of Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management.
Hrtel, C. E. J. & Fujimoto, Y. (1999, August). Explaining why diversity
sometimes has positive effects in organizations and sometimes has negative
effects in organizations: The perceived dissimilarity openness moderator model. Academy
of Management Best Papers Proceedings.
Hrtel, C. E. J., & Trumble, R. B. (1997, February). IDADA: The
Individual Difference Approach to Diversity Awareness (Management Paper
Series #36). Brisbane, Australia. University of Queensland, Graduate School of
Linnehan, F., & Konrad, A. M. (1999). Diluting diversity: Implications
for intergroup inequality in organizations. Journal of Management Inquiry,
Taylor-Carter, M. A., Doverspike, D., & Cook, K. D. (1995). Understanding
resistance to sex and race-based affirmative action: A review of research
findings. Human Resource Management Review, 5(2), 129-157.
Taylor-Carter, M. A., Doverspike, D., & Cook, K. D. (1996). The effects
of affirmative action on the female beneficiary. Human Resource Development
Quarterly, 7(1), 31-54.
April 2000 Table of Contents |
TIP Home | SIOP Home