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Global Vision:
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: b.kabanoff@qut.edu.au Phone: +61 7 3864-2944; FAX: +61 7 3864-1313 or m.griffin@qut.edu.au Phone: +61 7 3864-1766; FAX: +61 7 3864-1766.

References

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 Management.

Linnehan, F., & Konrad, A. M. (1999). Diluting diversity: Implications for intergroup inequality in organizations. Journal of Management Inquiry, 8(4), 399-414.

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.

 


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