Ethnic Diversity and Organizational Performance: Assessing Diversity Effects at the Managerial and Street Levels

Posted: 6 Apr 2006

See all articles by David Pitts

David Pitts

American University

Elizabeth M. Jarry

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration & Policy

Date Written: October 2005

Abstract

As the public sector workforce becomes more ethnically diverse and as government agencies make attempts to "manage" that diversity, the importance of understanding how diversity affects workplace interactions and work-related outcomes increases. Little public sector research has examined the impact of diversity on performance outcomes. This paper seeks to fill this gap by studying the effects of the ethnic diversity of managers and street level bureaucrats on work-related outcomes. We use basic in-group/out-group theories from psychology to form hypotheses relating diversity to performance. The results of diversity research using social identification and categorization theory and similarity/attraction theory led us to form the hypothesis that greater levels of ethnic diversity among public managers and street-level bureaucrats will lead to lower organizational performance, when the task requires significant coordination and collaboration. Diversity research that uses the information and decision-making theory, while scant, led us to form a second hypothesis that greater levels of ethnic diversity among public managers and street-level bureaucrats will lead to higher organizational performance, when the task does not require significant coordination and collaboration. Our results were mixed. We found support for the first hypothesis with respect to street-level bureaucrats but not for managers. The results did not support our second hypothesis - we actually found an opposite relationship for street-level bureaucrats from what we expected. Overall, the results support previous research that suggests that increased levels of ethnic diversity can lead to process-oriented difficulties in the workplace and negatively affect work-related outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Pitts, David W and Jarry, Elizabeth M., Ethnic Diversity and Organizational Performance: Assessing Diversity Effects at the Managerial and Street Levels (October 2005). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper No. 06-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=895314

David W Pitts (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Ward 334
Washington, DC 20016
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.american.edu/spa/faculty/pitts.cfm

Elizabeth M. Jarry

University of Georgia - Department of Public Administration & Policy

Athens, GA 30602
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
1,922
PlumX Metrics