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Organizational behavior -- globalization and diversity
Diversity is becoming more present within the contemporaneous business climates and it is necessary that economic agents devise and implement the most adequate strategies in responding to the challenges of diversity. Diversity in itself is not only a constant presence, but also a generator of impacts and organizational change. A relevant example in this sense is offered by the fact that diversity forces changes at the level of the leadership styles. Furthermore however, diversity also impacts organizational bottom line and productivity.
In light of the new evolutions at the level of the business climate, numerous changes occur in the previous paradigms. Specifically, one can easily observe shifts in organizational paradigms and to exemplify these, the cases of several Malaysian firms are introduced. Finally, the concept of organizational culture is detailed and emphasis is placed on the strategic strengthening of organizational culture.
Table of contents
1. Globalization and diversity
1.3. Impacts of diversity
1.3.1. Diversity impacts on the 21st century workforce
1.3.2. Diversity impacts on leadership style
2. Organizational impact of diversity
2.1. Diversity, productivity and the bottom line organization
2.2. The case of Wal-Mart
3. Shifting organizational paradigms
3.1. Different paradigms
3.2. The case of Malaysian companies
3.3. Change in structure in Malaysia
4. Organizational culture
4.1. Changes in diversity and changes in organizational paradigms
4.2. Strategic strengthening of organizational culture
1. Globalization and diversity
The past recent decades have been characterized by liberalizing markets, intensified international trade and transcending values. Each of these features is complex and dynamic. At the level of international trade, the role of China as an outsource destination and massive exporter is observed. At the level of values -- including political, economical or cultural -- the propagation of the Western values across the globe is witnessed.
Globalization is however a complex concept, with an even more complex manifestation. The following lines present several definitions of globalization, as they are featured in the specialized literature
"Globalization refers to any force that creates an unexpected, uniform, sometimes disruptive condition across heretofore-impermeable boundaries within which the relevant conditions were previously varied" (Mobley, 2006).
Globalization represents the "tendency of investment funds and businesses to move beyond domestic and national markets to other markets around the globe, thereby increasing the interconnectedness of different markets. Globalization has had the effect of markedly increasing not only international trade, but also cultural exchange" (Investopedia, 2011).
The definitions of globalization vary and they are either generalist or more business specific. They nevertheless have the commonality of presenting the concept as a force by which national values, information and resources are joined within the global context.
In the setting of globalization, economic agents came to transcend boundaries and benefit from the comparative advantages of other regions. The comparative advantages refer generally to cost efficient labor force, technological development or an increased access to natural resources. In the case of the first comparative advantage -- labor force -- the process of capitalization on this benefit was generally materialized in the opening of plants in the foreign regions and the employment of local workers.
But aside from the fact that economic agents perceived globalization as an opportunity to enhance their revenues, individuals also recognized globalization as a possibility of improving their lives. They as such commenced to transcend boundaries and sought employment in other countries which promised improved living standards. This is the context in which diversity in the workplace was created.
The concept of diversity is generically used to refer to a situation in which people of more cultural and otherwise backgrounds are united within the same group. In the case of workforce diversity, the group is united under the umbrella of the business entity.
"Workforce diversity refers to the division of the workforce into distinction categories that:
(a) have a perceived commonality within a given cultural or national context, and that
(b) impact potentially harmful or beneficial employment outcomes such as job opportunities, treatment in the workplace, and promotion prospects -- irrespective of job-related skills and qualifications" (Barak, 2010).
Throughout the recent years, the diversity generated by globalization in the workplace enhanced and became an important force of change, which as such requires adequate strategic management. The following section deals with the impacts of diversity within the modern day business climate, with emphasis on the workforce and the managerial style.
1.3. Impacts of diversity
1.3.1. Diversity impacts on the 21st century workplace
Workplace diversity generates a wide array of impacts among the modern day business community. As the very definition of the concept points out (Barak, 2010) diversity creates a context in which the outcomes of professional operations can be impacted based on cultural values. In other words, a first impact of diversity within the workplace is represented by the occurrence of discrimination.
Discrimination is traditionally understood as the unfair treatment of an individual based on the existence of differences such as religion, culture, race, gender and so on. From a legal standpoint, discrimination is understood as "the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit" (U.S. Legal, 2011).
In this order of ideas, as diversity enhances in the workplace, it is necessary to introduce programs of diversity sensitivity. When this is not the case, discrimination occurs in the modern day work place. The more common forms of discrimination are gender-based discrimination, racial discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination and age discrimination (Nelson, 2010).
The very existence of discrimination has created a new impact within the workplace of the 21st century -- the fight against discrimination. Today, there are numerous laws which protect the employees and militate for equal employment rights, some of the most relevant of them being:
The Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Age Discrimination in the Employment Act of 1967
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Generic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (Nelson, 2010).
Aside from discrimination and the fight against discrimination, diversity in the workplace also generates other impacts. For instance, it is often observable that culturally and otherwise diverse individuals possess different knowledge and expertise. This specifically means that the overall team possess more knowledge and as such an enhanced ability to complete its tasks. In other words, culturally diverse teams tend to perform at superior levels when compared to more homogenous teams (Johnson, 2006).
Other impacts of diversity within the contemporaneous workplace include the following:
Diversity forces the improvement of the managerial act
Diversity leads to the construction of several solutions to the identified problems
In a tolerant working environment, diversity is a motivation and it offers the satisfaction of interacting with socially diverse individuals and coming into contact with various other cultures
The positive impacts of increased productivity and improved working environment will only materialize if the business entity is constructed and functions in a manner which embraces diversity and when diversity is strategically and responsibly integrated. In a different scenario, it would come to generate negative impacts (McRae).
1.3.2. Diversity impacts on leadership style
As it has been mentioned throughout the previous section, the occurrence of diversity within the workplace is pegged to the evolution of the managerial act. In this order of ideas, the modern day manager is faced with the necessity to lead and administrate a larger and a more complex workforce. This means that the contemporaneous leader has to adjust their approach to both management as well as leadership.
At a managerial level, the manager has to ensure that all technical features are considered, understood and respected by all staff members. They will have to ensure that the employees are adequately trained and skilled so that they are able to perform their tasks and support the company in reaching its objectives. The manager has to allocate the resources, establish the time lines or implement training in order to respond to the diverse needs of the diverse staff members, but do so while eliminating discrimination.
At a leadership level, the manager has to adequately communicate with all subalterns, to reward them based on the incentives which stimulate them and to ensure that they unite the individual goals of the diverse members with the overall goals of the company. These leadership roles are extremely complex in a traditional, homogenous group, and they exponentially increase in complexity in a diverse workforce as the needs, desires, motivations and other personal features of the employees vary significantly.
At an overall level, the manager has to identify and capitalize upon the differences of their team members. They are expected to recognize and integrate the differences and to as such transform them into team strengths which bring the economic agent closer to its goals. Shelly McRae pointed out:
"Management within the workplace needs to be able to…[continue]
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