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The downside of diversity
The Ecomomist ^ | 1/21/2014

Posted on 01/23/2014 4:07:27 PM PST by Altura Ct.

THE closest thing the business world has to a universally acknowledged truth is that diversity is a good thing: the more companies hire people from different backgrounds the more competitive they will become. Diversity helps companies to overcome talent shortages by enlarging their talent pools. It helps them to cope with globalisation by expanding their cultural horizon. It stimulates innovation by bringing together different sorts of people. And so on.

But what about the downside of diversity? It does not pay to ask this question. Many countries have equal-opportunity laws on their books. American universities (and many others as well) are institutionally committed to the idea that diversity promotes learning and creativity. Most important perhaps, nobody wants to come across as unsympathetic to minorities or unappreciative of cultural variety.

Yet a glance beyond the corporate-diversity statements suggests a more complicated picture. It is notable how many of the world’s best companies, such as McKinsey and Apple, have cult-like cultures—probably because they are also very diverse: they need a strong culture. It is also notable how many of the world’s best companies are rooted in small towns: think of Lego (Billund) or Walmart (Bentonville). Distinctive religious groups such as the Mormons in America and the Parsis in India have also made an outsized contribution to corporate life.

It is far too easy to present “diversity” in one-sided terms: as a triumph of enlightenment over bigotry and creativity over closed-mindedness. But the subject is too important to be left to the cliché-mongers. Diversity can bring risks as well as benefits and perils as well as perks. There are trade-offs to be made, for example between the trust that comes from sharing a common background and the cultural sensitivity that comes from employing people from different parts of the word.

Roy Y.J .Chua, of Harvard Business School, is one of the few academics to produce serious studies of this subject. Mr Chua agrees that in a world of multinational corporations and global product markets success depends more than ever on your ability to foster multicultural thinking and cross-border collaboration. But in a paper in the current issue of the Academy of Management Journal (“The Costs of Ambient Cultural Disharmony: Indirect Intercultural Conflict in Social Environment Undermine Creativity") he goes on to note that getting people from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds to co-operate is fraught with difficulties. At best differences in world-view and cultural styles can produce “intercultural anxiety”, at worst outright conflict. The very thing that can produce added creativity—the collision of different cultures—can also produce friction. The question is whether the creativity is worth the conflict.

Mr Chua argues that creativity in multicultural settings is highly vulnerable to what he calls “ambient cultural disharmony”. Tension between people over matters of culture, he says, can pollute the wider environment and reduce “multicultural creativity”, meaning people’s ability to see non-obvious connections between ideas from different cultures. “Ambient cultural disharmony” persuades people to give up on making such connections because they conclude that it is not worth the trouble.

Mr Chua also says that “ambient cultural disharmony” has its strongest impact on people who regard themselves as open-minded. Closed-minded people expect cultural tensions. Open-minded people don’t expect them and so react to them more strongly. In another irony, Mr Chua also discovered that the only people who are not affected by cultural conflict, at least in terms of creativity, are the people who are at the heart of it. They are more likely to explain the problems in personal rather than cultural terms.

He tested this thesis in three studies. In one he surveyed participants about the amount of cultural disharmony they found in their networks at work. In a second study he asked some subjects to recall a recent conflict between two contacts from different cultural backgrounds who disliked each other. In the third he asked his subjects to watch a short video that depicted one of the following scenarios: intercultural conflict, same-culture conflict, intercultural harmony. He also measured creativity in a variety of ways, for instance by testing participants’ ability to solve word puzzles or their skills to produce products and services for different cultural groups.

In all three studies, subjects who had a greater experience of ambient cultural disharmony fell short on one or another of Mr Chua’s measures of creativity. Mr Chua says that he is not certain how much of a problem this is because his is the first study to identify it. But his results are important partly because many companies have such an optimistic view of cross-cultural pollination and partly because the second-order effects of cultural conflict (particularly among people who regard themselves as open-minded) are so hard to manage.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society

1 posted on 01/23/2014 4:07:27 PM PST by Altura Ct.
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To: Altura Ct.
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2 posted on 01/23/2014 4:19:21 PM PST by Huskrrrr
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To: Altura Ct.

Mr. Chua’s “research” notwithstanding, I’ve been in and around the corporate environment for almost 30 years and I have yet to see a “diverse” work group produce anything that is practically superior to a homogenous work group.

3 posted on 01/23/2014 4:45:10 PM PST by Arm_Bears (Refuse; Resist; Rebel; Revolt!)
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To: Altura Ct.

Instead of all the conjecture and verbal masturbation, all one needs to do is take a look at the demographics of the top ten most successful companies and see how they tally.

Google, Apple, Toyota, Intel, etc., what have you...

4 posted on 01/23/2014 5:06:46 PM PST by James C. Bennett (An Australian.)
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To: Altura Ct.

In our country’s recent history we’ve celebrated diversity in our population as if it were a good thing. However, one look at world history will show you that no country with a diverse population of different races, languages, and religion has long survived.

Countries don’t naturally form with a diverse population, and when in the past they’ve occurred it’s usually been as a result of armed conquest. These unnaturally formed countries have either melded together into a single population made up of one mixed race with one language and one religion or they’ve come apart, and they’ve usually come apart with extreme violence. The longer these diverse populations are forced to coexist with one another without mixing and becoming one, the more the hatred grows among them and the more violently they break apart, but break apart they will, or genocide will settle the issue once and for all.

Why is this and why can’t we all just get along? The truth of the matter is that we (the human race) just aren’t as civilized as we would like to think we are. Our species, Homo-sapien-sapien, isn’t that long “out of the trees” and the veneer of civilization is very thin, to non-existent, upon us all. We’re all carrying the genes that got us here and some of those genes carry a very basic survival instinct that has allowed us to survive thus far.

This most basic of all survival instincts is self preservation and it’s the one that warns us to be very wary of those who are different than us, our family, and our tribe. Those who possessed this survival instinct survived and reproduced, and those who had no fear/distrust of strangers didn’t survive. Over the years, this survival instinct has been referred to as tribalism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, racism, and various other isms, but it’s an inborn instinct carried in our genes whether we like it or not.

This “celebration” of diversity and multiculturalism in the American population was introduced in the 1960s and 70s as a deliberate divisive revolutionary tool wielded by Marxists like Bill Ayers and other radicals. It became dogma taught by Marxists in our universities, then spread by our leftist controlled news media and leftist controlled Hollywood. The intent was, and is, to split American culture along race and class lines and set off a “proletarian” revolution to destroy capitalism. The Left has now managed to elect a half-Black radical as President and their revolution is proceeding along very predictable lines, with him using every opportunity to stir up more division and discontent. A reading of the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA at this link should make clear their goals and methods:

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the American people are about to learn the savage lesson of Communist Revolution that the Russian people learned at the beginning of the last century. Millions died in Russia’s Communist “experiment” before they learned that Communism just doesn’t work, as the concept of Communism (“You didn’t build that”) is completely alien to basic human nature. Now it’s our turn to learn what Russia after a century of death and misery now knows.

However, the coming American Communist Revolution that Karl Marx and his acolyte Barack Hussein Obama is bringing upon us won’t progress in the comparatively orderly fashion as it did with the Bolsheviks in Russia. The cursed diversity within the U.S. population will quickly turn this Communist Revolution into a no-holds-barred, and to-the-death, Race War. How our country with its Constitution intact could possibly survive such a blood-bath is a near impossibility. It once appeared as if our country might one day become a mixed race people of olive skinned, brown eyed, black haired, Spanish speaking Muslims, but Barack Hussein Obama has started a Communist Revolution that will undoubtedly destroy any possibility of that ever occurring.

There’s no expiration date on any of our survival instincts, and white Liberal Democrats in their “Gun Free” zones will be the first among us to be reminded of this at the very beginning of our coming Communist Revolution turned Race War, as the American experiment in Democracy joins all previous Democracies in the dust-bin of history.

5 posted on 01/23/2014 5:16:00 PM PST by DJ Taylor (Once again our country is at war, and once again the Democrats have sided with our enemy.)
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To: Altura Ct.

‘divserity’ is the govt approved term for racism.

companies should be hiring the best for the position... regardless of race. by promoting ‘diversity’, govt types are forcing companies to factor in race while hiring.

racism alive and well in America

6 posted on 01/23/2014 5:57:16 PM PST by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: Arm_Bears

“Mr. Chua’s “research” notwithstanding, I’ve been in and around the corporate environment for almost 30 years and I have yet to see a “diverse” work group produce anything that is practically superior to a homogenous work group.”

Same here. Is no more than instituting reverse racism

People work better when they think alike

Germans and Japanese are examples, including ww2

7 posted on 01/23/2014 7:05:39 PM PST by bestintxas (Obamacare = Obamascrewed)
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To: bestintxas

I work with Russians, Indians and Chinese tech workers. Some are good and some suck. Just like anyone else.

8 posted on 01/23/2014 7:26:54 PM PST by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy

How can we have diversity and income equality at the same time?

Seems the former means difference and the latter same.

9 posted on 01/23/2014 9:29:19 PM PST by bicyclerepair (TERM LIMITS TERM LIMITS TERM LIMITS)
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