Re-assessing the standard: The expansive positive potential of a relational identity in diverse organizations

  • Brickson S
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Abstract

While theorists assume that diversity affords positive potential, very little work has addressed this upside with most research focusing on its associated problems. Further, the dominant theoretical paradigm of social identity theory seems limited in its ability to advance prescriptive advice likely to generate truly positive and expansive outgroup attitudes. The present experiment compared a relational identity manipulation to recategorization, the collective identity manipulation most commonly prescribed in the diversity literature. Further, it included conditions of both direct and indirect outgroup contact. Results revealed a synergistic effect whereby both a relational identity and direct outgroup contact improve outgroup attitudes while the absence of both conditions, experienced by those with a collectivistic identity without direct outgroup contact, results in markedly worsened attitudes. Results are encouraging in their suggestion that a relational identity appears to provide an improved alternative to recategorization in general terms while offering particular promise in the extension of positive attitudes to those without direct outgroup contact. These benefits manifested themselves toward different targets on a number of measures. The experiment also has implications for our understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the advantages identified. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Diversity management
  • Identity
  • Intergroup relations
  • Organizational behavior
  • Relational orientation

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