ERG SES E 05, Management and Education
Companies are particularly affected by the risks of the VUCA world. One of most important issues that can generate these risks is diversity in workforce. In the era of globalisation, the complexity of economic systems is revolutionizing work environments, especially in terms of human resources, work methods, and workers’ professional identities. Diversity in work environments has become one of the essential themes concerning human resource management. Diversity Management (DM) in companies can have a key role to reduce the risks of the VUCA world. The aim of this paper is to explain the results of my doctoral research regarding Intercultural Competence in Diversity Management.
The context of DM is a global arena where characteristics needs, and values of people are diverse and this requires improving the global management mindset and skill set (Pusch, 2009). Diversity Management «may concern any possible dimension of differentiation» (Van Knippenberg, Schippers, 2007, p. 517). The practice of DM requires developing expert competencies, principally for those who manage work groups. DM is a topic tackled by many disciplines (e.g. psychology, management studies, and sociology), but studies regarding DM related competencies are insufficient in the scientific literature, and, especially in the field of educational studies, researches are scarce.
The focus of this research is centered around said literature gaps in order to tackle companies’ practical needs. Seeing the context is DM, this research has been carried out along the lines of the epistemological paradigm of Intercultural Education. This approach approach has proved to be a suitable answer (Fantini, 2000). The main aim of the research is the creation of a reference model of Intercultural Competence (IC) for the purpose of entrepreneurial DM. The model in question does not measure IC but rather represents a reference point for an effective actualisation of the practice of DM.
This research involves 3 organization, 1 large companies and, 2 multinational corporations with 34 managers and HR partners. The research methodology was framed within the naturalistic qualitative paradigm, the epistemological foundation of which is principally based on symbolic interactionism (Denzin, Lincoln, 2000; Cohen et al, 2011; Blumer, 1969). Managerial practices have been analysed pursuant to the chosen methodological approach through semi-structured interviews. The method of Qualitative Content Analysis (Drisko, Maschi, 2016; Krippendorff, 2004), carried out with the support of the NVivo software, has allowed for the identification of categories able to describe the practice of DM and the categories of which IC is construed. This methodology allows to delve deeply into the practice, and to look for connecting elements which characterize intercultural competence in DM. The research is divided into three steps. The first step aims at analyzing DM practices in order to measure the IC. The second step is designed to co-validate the data with people involved in this research by using focus groups to define the final model of IC. Finally, an experimentation and practical implementation step was carried out in accordance with the employment of the model of IC as an evaluation tool. Managers were also trained to utilize the IC model for evaluation processes. The goal of this final step is to maximize managers’ competences, and also their DM practices.
This research’s definitive model for Intercultural Competence is comprised of five areas: 1) the self (attitudes and self-awareness); 2) knowledge; 3) skills; 4) values, brand culture and identity; 5) the landscape of international rights touching on diversity within the workplace. Each aspect in turn contains specific categories describing the aspect itself. The model’s practical application was conceived as a reference point for the evaluation system pertaining to inclusive leadership and managerial training; it was also conceived as reference point for company policy, especially with regard to the Diversity Charters promoted by the EU. The results demonstrate that managers and their companies need to develop competences to improve the effectiveness of DM. DM represents a management area that has a central role for reducing the risk of globalisation within companies, but they need to be supported. Intercultural Education with its specific paradigm, and the development of Intercultural Competence could represent a strategic point of reference in terms of training because it promotes competences and practices capable of giving value to every form of diversity and change (Portera, 2015).
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