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Diversity and diversity policy: diving into fundamental differences

Anne R. van Ewijk (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 30 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer scholars an analytical framework to identify what the fundamental choices are in the definition of diversity (the what), in the motivation for diversity within organisations (the why), and in diversity policy as an organisational strategy (the how). It also hopes to stimulate diversity professionals to reflect upon the underlying assumptions of their policies and, if needed, provide inspiration as to how to align them towards a more coherent approach.

Design/methodology/approach

Academic contributions from political, social and management theory on diversity and diversity policy are analyzed on their conceptual coherence to identify important research gaps and construct an analytical framework that can serve to fill these gaps.

Findings

Although increasing societal diversity challenges many organisations to change and facilitate diversity within their structures, defining diversity and diversity policy is an uncommon habit both in the professional practice and in academic studies, while this definition influences the scope and validity of research results and can have a considerable impact on the practical consequences of diversity initiatives. The few studies in this field tend to be quantitative and jump to explanations for differences. The proposed analytical framework contains fundamental choices in the definition of diversity (the selection, interpretation, and categorization of modes of differentiation), the motivation for diversity within organisations (the desired base of difference is individual or collective, and arguments are moral or practical), and the diversity policy approach (the intensity is high or low, and the relevance of collective difference is high or low).

Originality/value

A theoretical exploration of the concept of diversity and diversity policy draws on sources from three distinct disciplines that have not been combined in such a way before, resulting in a new analytical framework that facilitates theory building and policy learning on the topic.

Keywords

Citation

van Ewijk, A.R. (2011), "Diversity and diversity policy: diving into fundamental differences", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 680-694. https://doi.org/10.1108/09534811111158921

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited