You Can't Always Get What You Need: Organizational Determinants of Diversity Programs

Dobbin, Frank, Soohan Kim, and Alexandra Kalev. 2011. “You Can't Always Get What You Need: Organizational Determinants of Diversity Programs”. American Sociological Review 76:386.

32 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2013

See all articles by Frank Dobbin

Frank Dobbin

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Soohan Kim

Korea University

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

While some U.S. corporations have adopted a host of diversity management programs, many have done little or nothing. We explore the forces promoting six diversity programs in a national sample of 816 firms over 23 years. Institutional theory suggests that external pressure for innovation reinforces internal advocacy. We argue that external pressure and internal advocacy serve as alternatives, such that when external pressure is already high, increases in internal advocacy will not alter the likelihood of program adoption. Moreover, institutional theory points to functional need as a driver of innovation. We argue that in the case of innovations designed to achieve new societal goals, functional need, as defined in this case by the absence of workforce diversity or the presence of regulatory oversight, is less important than corporate culture. Our findings help explain the spotty coverage of diversity programs. Firms that lack workforce diversity are no more likely to adopt programs, but those that have large contingents of women managers are more likely. Pro-diversity industry and corporate cultures promote diversity programs. The findings carry implications for public policy.

Keywords: Diversity Management, Stratification, Institutionalization, Corporate Culture, Power

Suggested Citation

Dobbin, Frank and Kim, Soohan and Kalev, Alexandra, You Can't Always Get What You Need: Organizational Determinants of Diversity Programs (2011). Dobbin, Frank, Soohan Kim, and Alexandra Kalev. 2011. “You Can't Always Get What You Need: Organizational Determinants of Diversity Programs”. American Sociological Review 76:386.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2280660

Frank Dobbin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Soohan Kim

Korea University ( email )

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, 6997801
Israel

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