February 21, 2011

What techniques are there for managing cultural and organizational diversity?

As the world becomes a smaller place, and we find ourselves working with different people from all walks of life, this becomes an increasingly important topic. I couldn't find any techniques as such, but the most important underlying theme was to do with effective communication. People from different cultural/organisational backgrounds will obviously have different ways of doing things, due to varying standards, expectations or norms.

The best way to combat any difficulties that might arise from this is to make sure that people understand each other. Effective communication crosses the boundaries, and help people to empathise with the position of others, and why certain things are important to certain people.

An inclusive environment also helps. People who feel welcome to be themselves are likely to be happier than those forced to live a lie. This may require an open mind on the part of a manager, along with a readiness to compromise and be adaptable to the needs of different types of people.

Brownell (2003) felt that self-monitoring, empathy, and strategic-decision making are important. The first is the awareness one has of how their behaviour affects others, and their willingness to change this based on the impact. The second is the ability of those on the end of communication to go beyond the spoken words to understand what is really meant, based on the communicator's background (feelings, values, assumptions and needs). The last relates to which channels of communication are used, and why. Certain ones will work better on/for certain people. 

Mor Barak (2010) agrees with many of these themes. She also adds that managers should use their knowledge of cultural differences to aid their understanding of what helps facilitate effective communication, and what can create barriers to it.


Brownell, Judi (2003). Developing Receiver-Centered Communication in Diverse Organizations. Listening Professional, 2(1), 5-25

Mor Barak, Michalle E. (2010). Managing Diversity:Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. Sage


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