Sub-theme 55: Organizing for Multiculturalism: Between Conflict and Inclusion

Convenors:
Minna Paunova
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Miguel Morillas
Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
Renate Ortlieb
University of Graz, Austria

Call for Papers


Organizing for wellbeing at work and for the good life more broadly is an interest that practitioners and scholars increasingly share. In organizational contexts characterized by cultural, national, ethnic, and religious diversity, a path towards the good life is imagined through social equality and inclusion. But (how) do organizations promote social equality and inclusion? There are inherent tensions in the relationships among concepts such as equality, equity, diversity, inclusion, and organization. Reflecting the overall theme of the conference and continuing the engaging conversations in earlier sub-themes at EGOS Colloquia on migration, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and nationalism (2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021), the aim of this sub-theme is to stimulate further discussion on the connections between these issues. Specifically, the sub-theme invites theoretical and empirical research on the relationship between multiculturalism at various levels of analysis – including cultural, national, ethnic, and religious diversity in work teams, organizations, and communities – and the workplace values and practices related but not limited to equality and equity, justice and fairness, redistribution and recognition, conflict and cohesion, wellbeing and inclusion.
 
Critical inclusion studies, for example, demonstrate some of the conflicts inherent in organizing for multiculturalism. This line of research uncovers the mechanisms preventing migrants and ethnic minorities from actually feeling included in organizations, showing that inclusion and exclusion are inevitably the two sides of the same coin (Dobusch, 2014; Ponzoni et al., 2017). Organizational efforts to include cultural, national, and ethnic minorities unavoidably come with ‘strings attached’ (Ortlieb et al., 2021), revealing the managerial limits of embracing that ‘diversity is good’ (Morillas & Romani, 2022). Likewise, postcolonial perspectives alerted us to critically scrutinize organizational practices that putatively ‘bring good’ to workers in foreign countries (Banerjee, 2021; Boussebaa et al., 2014) and remain sceptical about hegemonic Western scholarship theorizing inclusion (Pio, 2021).
 
Discourses on diversity in organizational practice and scholarship have taken a strong turn toward the immaterial by emphasizing identity and inclusion (Nkomo et al., 2019), but such viewpoints diminish the significance of minority status for material outcomes such as employment opportunities and career prospects (Bell et al., 2018; Noon, 2007; Zanoni, 2011). In economically important contexts such as those of organizations, justice is strongly connected to the distribution of fixed goods (Konow et al., 2020). Equity as well as equality, among other distributive rules (e.g., based on need), are necessary. Organizing for multiculturalism involves at least two basic and inevitable forms of conflict: one stems from equity violations and results in overt conflict involving attempts to restore justice, and the other stems from equality violations and results in non-directed conflict that is symptomatic of decreased social cohesion (Kabanoff, 1991).
 
Organizations employing migrants and ethnic minorities may experience decreased cohesion not only because of identity violations but also because of breakdowns in reciprocity and cooperation, stemming from unequal power relations and status differences associated with national origin (Paunova, 2020). Organizing for multiculturalism calls for redistribution as well as recognition (Fraser, 2001; Honneth, 2001). Acknowledging that justice is concerned with both the distribution of economic goods and the distribution of conditions and goods that affect wellbeing, this sub-theme welcomes scholarly work concerned with migration, diversity management, ethnicity, refugees, post-colonial, and critical race studies.
 
We are particularly interested in work that pushes the frontiers of current organizational research. Papers may address any of these or related topics:

  • What does the good life mean in the context of multiculturalism? How can organizations promote the good life in multicultural societies?

  • What bearing does multiculturalism have on individual and collective wellbeing, as well as organizational resilience and cohesion, innovation and progress?

  • How can migrants and individuals from minority cultural backgrounds act as change agents to promote equality, equity, justice, and fairness?

  • What forms of conflict emerge when organizing for multiculturalism?

  • What are the boundaries between recognition and redistribution in the context of diverse organizations?

  • How are migrant status, ethnicity, race, nationality, and religion related to other bases of inequality and inequity such as gender, disability status, age, and class?

  • What are the (potential) conflicts related to efforts to recognize, include and promote the good life of different historically disadvantaged groups (e.g., contemporary migrants and ethnic minorities) in organizations?

 


References


  • Banerjee, B. (2021): “Modern slavery is an enabling condition of global neoliberal capitalism: Commentary on modern slavery in Business.” Business and Society, 60 (2), 415–419.
  • Bell, M.P., Leopold, J., Berry, D., & Hall, A.V. (2018): “Diversity, discrimination, and persistent inequality: Hope for the future through the solidarity economy movement.” Journal of Social Issues, 74 (2), 224–243.
  • Boussebaa, M., Sinha, S., & Gabriel, Y. (2014): “Englishization in offshore call centers: A postcolonial perspective.” Journal of International Business Studies, 45 (9), 1152–1169.
  • Dobusch, L. (2014) “How exclusive are inclusive organisations?” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 33 (3), 220–234.
  • Fraser, N. (2001): “Recognition without ethics?” Theory, Culture & Society, 18 (2–3), 21–42.
  • Honneth, A. (2001): “Recognition or redistribution?” Theory, Culture & Society, 18 (2–3), 43–55.
  • Kabanoff, B. (1991): “Equity, equality, power, and conflict.” Academy of Management Review, 16 (2), 416–441.
  • Konow, J., Saijo, T., & Akai, K. (2020): “Equity versus equality: Spectators, stakeholders and groups.” Journal of Economic Psychology, 77, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016748701830655X.
  • Morillas, M., & Romani, L. (2022): “Ideology, doxa, and critical reflexive learning: The possibilities and limits of thinking that ‘diversity is good’.” Management Learning., first published online on March 1, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1177/13505076221074632.
  • Nkomo, S.M., Bell, M.P., Roberts, L.M., Joshi, A., & Thatcher, S.M. (2019): “Diversity at a critical juncture: New theories for a complex phenomenon.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (3), 498–517.
  • Noon, M. (2007): “The fatal flaws of diversity and the business case for ethnic minorities.” Work, Employment and Society, 21 (4), 773–784.
  • Ortlieb, R., Glauninger, E., & Weiss, S. (2021): “Organizational inclusion and identity regulation: How inclusive organizations form ‘Good’, ‘Glorious’ and ‘Grateful’ refugees.” Organization, 28 (2), 266–288.
  • Paunova, M. (2020): “Diversity as Heterogeneity and Inequality: The Case of Nationality.” In: S.N. Just, A. Risberg & F. Villesèche (eds.): The Routledge Companion to Organizational Diversity Research Methods. London: Routledge, 107–121.
  • Pio, E. (2021): “Footfalls and heart-prints for Indigenous inclusion.” Organization, 28 (6), 879–902.
  • Ponzoni, E., Ghorashi, H., & van der Raad, S. (2017): “Caught between norm and difference: Narratives on refugees’ inclusion in organizations.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 36 (3), 222–237.
  • Zanoni, P. (2011): “Diversity in the lean automobile factory: Doing class through gender, disability and age.” Organization, 18 (1), 105–127.
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Minna Paunova is Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Management and Communication at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Multiculturalism, global inequality, and migrant integration at work are among her current research interests.
Miguel Morillas is a PhD candidate in Organization Studies at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. His research uses ethnographic methods and critical sociological theories to investigate organizational processes, and his areas of interest include skilled migrants, inclusion and exclusion, diversity management, and critical reflexivity.
Renate Ortlieb is Professor of Human Resource Management at the University of Graz, Austria. Her current research focuses on the workplace integration of refugees, migrant/ethnic minority workers, gender and diversity, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business firms and workers.