Cultural Diversity in an Organization

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Cultural Diversity in an Organization 1

Cultural Diversity in an Organization
Henry Jerkins

Industrial Organizational Psychology
Professor Withen
April 5, 2011

Cultural Diversity in an Organization 2

There is no single definition to define cultural diversity in an organization. This topic has been studied from a variety of perspectives ranging from disciplines such as anthropology and sociology, to the applied disciplines of organizational behavior, management science, and organizational communication. There have been so many changes in the cultural make-up of organizations that it becomes imperative for leaders and supervisors to understand cultural diversity and how it can impact their organization. Culture diversity has been defined as the representation in one social system of people with distinctly different group affiliations of cultural significance. For some it refers to an appreciation of good literature, music, art, and food. From the biologist perspective, it is likely to be a colony or grouping of bacteria or other microorganisms growing in a nutrient medium in a laboratory Petri dish. Culture is a full range of learned human behavior patterns. Culture is viewed as a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs, and any other set of capabilities and habits acquired by humans in a society. Culture is a powerful human tool for survival, additionally it is a fragile phenomenon that is constantly changing and easily lost because it exists only in our minds. Our written languages, governments, buildings, and other man-made products are merely the outcome of culture, these products are not culture within themselves, and is often referred to as corporate culture; although that isn’t the best description since a large number of non-profit organizational or charity could also be viewed as having its own organizational culture even though they are definitely not corporations. Another definition is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that a group of individuals learned as a means of solving it’s problems that has worked well enough to be viewed as being valid and is passed on to new members as the proper way to perceive, think, and express emotions in relation to those problems. As a result of

Cultural Diversity in an Organization 3

culture being so deeply rooted in an organization’s measures of success or failure, (and because of its collective experience, any organization that needs work to change its structural mindset will be facing an uphill battle by way of investment of time, resources and work.) Therefore, in cases such as this, organizational values are more important today than at any other time in history as a result of the personal and societal context in which a business operates constantly changes. The values that an organization lives by are important factors to a variety of stakeholders. The relationship between internal and external stakeholders in an organization cannot be underestimated. From a societal standpoint, the values of the company need to meet society’s expectation with regards to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Therefore, failing to meet these expectations can be a very significant impact on the financial performance of the organization. It is imperative for the values to meet the needs of any new shareholders that are only investing in companies that meet the socially responsible investment criteria in order to attract potential candidates; the organizational values need to meet the needs of the new employee who is considering working in an organizational culture that aligns with their personal values. In today’s society where companies and organizations are constantly discussing impending workforce shortages across all spectrums and professions, such as accounting, teaching and the public service sector, it is imperative to build sustained organizational cultures. Organizations are comprised of different type...
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