Dissertation Writers: intergroup relations Wido G.M. Oerlemans and Maria C.W. Peeters
The multicultural workplace: interactive acculturation and
intergroup relations Wido G.M. Oerlemans and Maria C.W. Peeters
Purpose – The paper’s aim is to introduce the interactive acculturation model (IAM) of Bourhis et al. to predict how disconcordance in acculturation orientations between host community and immigrant workers relates to the quality of intergroup work-relations.
Design/methodology/approach – The sample consisted of 141 host community (Dutch) and 41 non-western immigrant workers of a postal service company who filled out a questionnaire. Methods of analyses include analysis of variance and multiple regression.
Findings – In line with the IAM, results showed that a higher disconcordance in preferred acculturation orientations between host community and immigrant workers related to a poorer quality of intergroup work-relations. However, intergroup contact moderated this relationship differently for host community and immigrant workers.
Research limitations/implications – Data are cross-sectional and collected in one organization. Future studies should replicate the findings to other organizational contexts, cultural groups, and collect longitudinal data to determine causal effects.
Practical implications – Organizations should monitor disconcordance in acculturation orientations amongst host community and immigrant workers. A multicultural culture in organizations may reduce disconcordance in acculturation orientations between host community and immigrant workers.
Originality/value – The paper helps to explain the mixed findings in cultural diversity research so far, by demonstrating that disconcordance in acculturation orientations relates negatively to intergroup work-relations in a multicultural workplace.
Keywords Acculturation, Intergroup relations, Migrant workers, National cultures, The Netherlands
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction Nowadays, many workplaces are transformed into domains where culturally diverse groups of employees interact on a daily basis. It therefore becomes more and more important to understand how cultural diversity in organizations relates to important work-outcomes. Literature reviews on cultural diversity showed mixed results (Oerlemans et al., 2008). For example, some studies indicated that cultural diversity in work-groups leads to benefits (e.g. enhanced creativity, innovation, and decision making; McLeod and Lobel, 1992; Watson et al., 2002), whereas other studies showed that cultural diversity leads to negative work-outcomes (e.g. increased relational conflicts, a poorer quality of work-relations; Ely and Thomas, 2001; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998).
One way to get more insight in the mixed effects of cultural diversity on work-outcomes is to study “deep-level” forms of cultural diversity in addition to examining “surface-level” forms of cultural diversity (Harrison et al., 1998; Wheeler, 2002). Surface level forms of
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
cultural diversity encompass variations in ethnicity or nationality (Jackson et al., 1995, 2003; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998), whereas deep-level forms of cultural diversity encompass (differences in) cultural attitudes, norms, and values (Jackson et al., 2003). Most research so far focused on examining surface-level forms of cultural diversity (Oerlemans, 2009). The main aim of this study is therefore to examine whether one aspect of deep-level cultural diversity, acculturation orientations, can explain why cultural diversity sometimes relates positively, and sometimes negatively to intergroup work-relations in multicultural workplaces.