As Canadian as Hockey: Examining the Cultural Mosaic Approach to Multicultural Work Groups
17 Pages Posted: 20 May 2010
The term “cultural mosaic” reflects Canadian social ideology regarding multiculturalism. Unlike a “melting pot” that emphasizes blending and abandonment of cultural heritage, a cultural mosaic describes a society in which cultural groups live and work together maintaining their unique heritages while being included in the larger fabric of society. This study empirically examines the meaning of this term extending it to the work group setting and exploring implications for group conflict and performance. Drawing on relevant literature, we define cultural mosaic as a characteristic of culturally diverse work groups in which members' distinct cultural heritages, values, and practices are mutually recognized and accepted by the group, and utilized in the group's activities. A survey of 85 Canadians working in multicultural groups tested their understanding, awareness, and preference for a mosaic (versus melting pot or homogenous groups) when given a choice, and the evidence of a mosaic in their work groups. Results show high awareness of the concept and strong preference for mosaic groups, particularly among those who are satisfied with their current multicultural work groups; those least satisfied were less aware of the mosaic concept and strongly preferred homogenous groups. Although respondents expressed positive attitudes toward their preferred type of group, and anticipated least interpersonal conflict in those groups, across the board respondents expected significantly higher levels of conflict in melting pot groups compared to either mosaic or homogenous groups. We discuss implications for research and theory on intra-group conflict and diversity, and for the practice of managing multicultural groups.
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