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Diversity management across borders: the role of the national context

Almina Bešić (School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria)
Christian Hirt (School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 14 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to analyse the question how context-specific diversity management (DM) is and whether it is transferable by organisations.


The authors explore context specificity and transferability of DM with the example of an Austrian company in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Based on the relational framework for the transfer of DM practices the authors empirically examine differences between headquarters and subsidiaries.


The empirical analysis reveals challenges for the transferability of DM and thus different approaches in the analysed company. The authors do not identify a significant transfer of DM practices. The findings are in line with the relational framework and suggest that headquarters must be treated separately from foreign subsidiaries, which theoretical models should take into account.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies would benefit from a more holistic design not only based on the managements’ perceptions. A comparison with the situation in other companies in transition economies would further increase generalisability.

Practical implications

The authors underscore the need for diversity as a strategic approach to management. Organisations benefit from considering context specificity and should be aware that DM practices in headquarters must not be transferable to subsidiaries. Although theoretical models are useful to identify diversity motives and strategies, their application in practice needs consideration of the context.


The paper tackles the issue of context specificity and considers motives and strategies for DM. The case study sheds light on the link between headquarters’ diversity strategy and practice in a subsidiary and contributes to deficient research for transition economies.



The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped considerably with the argumentation and structure of this paper.


Bešić, A. and Hirt, C. (2016), "Diversity management across borders: the role of the national context", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 123-135.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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