Engaging with (Diversity) Management: An Analysis of Minority Employees' Agency

35 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2005

See all articles by Patrizia Zanoni

Patrizia Zanoni

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL)

Maddy Janssens

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL)


This study analyses how minority employees engage with (diversity) management to construct their organizational identities and, by so doing, comply with, accommodate and/or resist managerial control. Differently from most studies of diversity as a discourse, which consider diversity discourses as direct forms of control, we approach diversity as an identity-regulating discourse, controlling minority employees indirectly by offering them specific organizational identities. Further, these identity-regulating discourses combine with the specific material structure of the organization, creating a particular mix of direct and indirect control. We analyze four minority employees' identities in two organizations, a technical drawing company and a hospital. We show that minority employees actively engage, as agents, with both types of control, which constrain them but also open up possibilities for resistance, and even forms of (micro-)emancipation. The paper contributes to the reconceptualization of diversity as an identity-regulating discourse and to the further theorization of identity regulation and emancipation.

Keywords: Diversity, Agency, Materiality, Resistance, Control, Emancipation

Suggested Citation

Zanoni, Patrizia and Janssens, Maddy, Engaging with (Diversity) Management: An Analysis of Minority Employees' Agency. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=870227 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.870227

Patrizia Zanoni (Contact Author)

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) ( email )

Leuven, B-3000
32 16 326867 (Phone)
3216326732 (Fax)

Maddy Janssens

Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
B-3000 Leuven
32 16 326874 (Phone)
32 16 326732 (Fax)

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