The role of culture in managing diversity: How culturally based heuristics differ in minority and non-minority managerial decision making

by Hartl, Susanne D., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 203 pages; 3505733


This comparative study examines the relationship between ethnic culture and management decision-making for African American, Hispanic American and European American business owners using Relational Models Theory. Relational Models Theory asserts that people are naturally sociable and predisposed to relate to others in only four ways, or through only four fundamental relational models: Communal Sharing (CS), Authority Ranking (AR), Equality Matching (EM), and Market Pricing (MP). Broadly, use of these models is culturally transmitted. It was hypothesized that each group would rely on different models that lead to using different culturally based heuristics to decide managerial issues like allocating resources or assigning tasks. Relevant managerial issues were defined within the contextual domains of exchange, distribution, work, morals, decision, influence, and identity. The Woodhull – Louis Relational Models Inventory was administered to a total of 213 U.S. independent small business owners in each of the aforementioned groups primarily via an email-distributed survey methodology. Data were analyzed using non-parametric tests in SPSS. The major findings are that all groups rely on the AR model to a similar extent, though European American business owners are significantly less inclined to rely on AR within the decision domain. African American business owners rely less on the CS model than the other groups in the exchange, distribution, decision, and influence domains and significantly more on EM in the distribution and identity domains. Hispanic American business owners rely on the relational models in the most balanced way compared to the other study groups. Given these results, organizations with diverse employee populations should consider that minority employees who tend to rely less on CS in the decision domain may resist commonly used consensus-building decision processes often implemented in organizational work teams. Minority employees that rely on the EM model for distribution may also expect more equal divisions of work tasks and organizational resources. Other possible implications for small business consultants and researchers and for larger organizations with minority employees and diverse work teams are discussed.

AdviserMartin Lees
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsAfrican American studies; Black studies; Management; Hispanic American studies
Publication Number3505733

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