The influence of diversity complexity and emotional intelligence on the attitude towards diversity in organisations

Kamps, Jenna May (2010-03)

Thesis (MComm) -- Stellenbosch University, 2010.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The plethora of differences that characterise the South Africa population has become a definite concern for organisational management and is of significant importance to the industrial world itself. The need to critically assess people’s perception and attitude towards diversity within the organisation, and ultimately serving to inform management seeking to build an ethically diverse, healthy and productive workforce, served as a prime motivation for this study. The objective was to demonstrate that humans are complex beings and that attempts to minimise the complexity by simply containing that complexity within the bounds of a unidimensional solution are guaranteed to fail. It is for this reason that diversity management within an organisation requires the need to manage an infinite and changing variety of social variables which to varying degrees, impacts on social interaction and people’s attitude towards diversity. Having completed a literature study concerning the possible antecedents of attitude towards diversity, and taking into account various suggested future directions for diversity research, it was decided that the present study would focus on three specific variables: attitude towards diversity, emotional intelligence and diversity complexity. The primary goal was to design and conduct a scientific investigation into the relationships between the latent variables; in hope of ultimately informing management seeking to build an ethically diverse, healthy and productive workforce who value the individuality of others. Available literature was studied in order to understand and comprehend whether any relationships could be theoretically drawn between the constructs. Several hypotheses were proposed and a conceptual model, explaining the relationships between these constructs, was developed. Thereafter, both the postulated relationships and the conceptual model were empirically tested using various statistical methods. Existing measuring instruments were utilised in this study, and included the Cultural Diversity Belief Scale (Rentsch, Turban, Hissong, Jenkins & Marrs, 1995), the Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory (Palmer, Stough & Gignac, 2008), and the Reaction- To-Diversity-Inventory (De Meuse & Hostager, 2001). The sample consisted of 237 selected individuals from various South African organisations. The content and structure of the constructs that were measured by the instruments were investigated by means of confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses. The results indicated that in all cases, the refined measurement models achieved good fit. Subsequently, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to determine the extent to which the conceptual model fitted the data obtained from the sample and to test the relationships between the constructs when taking the complete conceptual model into account. Overall, it was found that good model fit was indicated for the structural model. Regression analyses also found some support for the stated hypotheses. Eight of the ten stated hypotheses in this study were corroborated. Although several significant links were established between the latent variables, a notable unique result of this research presented itself in the significant positive relationships uncovered between the exogenous latent variable, emotional intelligence, and the endogenous latent variables of valuing individual differences and positive perceptual depth. These significant positive relationships provide empirical evidence of the significant relationships between emotions, attitudes and perceptions. Moreover, the analysis of the modification indices for the structural model, suggested that the addition of one path to the existing structural model would probably improve the fit of the model. Recommendations are made in terms of possible avenues for future research.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die uiteenlopende verskille, wat 'n kenmerk van die Suid-Afrika bevolking geword het, is 'n definitiewe uitdaging vir organisatoriese bestuur en is ook van groot belang vir die sakewêreld. Die behoefte om mense se persepsies en houdings teenoor die diversiteit binne die organisasie krities te evalueer, wat uiteindelik ook dien om bestuur, wat op soek is na die bou van 'n etiese, gesonde en produktiewe arbeidsmag, te help, het as die primêre motivering vir hierdie studie gedien. Die doel was om aan te toon dat die mens ‘n komplekse wese is en dat pogings om dit gering te skat deur kompleksiteit net binne die grense van 'n een-dimensionele oplossing te ontleed, gewaarborg is om te misluk. Dit is om hierdie rede dat diversiteitsbestuur binne 'n organisasie die bestuur van ‘n oneindige en veranderende verskeidenheid van sosiale veranderlikes noodsaak, wat, sosiale interaksie en mense se houdings teenoor diversiteit verskillend kan beinvloed. Na die voltooiing van 'n literatuurstudie oor die moontlike determinante antecedenten van die houding teenoor diversiteit, en met inagneming van die toekomstige rigtings vir diversiteitsnavorsing, is daar besluit dat die huidige studie op drie spesifieke veranderlikes sal fokus: houding teenoor diversiteit, emosionele intelligensie en diversiteitskompleksiteit. Die primêre doel was om ‘n wetenskaplike ondersoek te ontwerp en uit te voer rakende die verwantskappe tussen die latente veranderlikes; in die hoop om bestuur te help om ‘n gesonde en produktiewe arbeidsmag te bou wat ook die individualiteit van ander waardeer. Beskikbare literatuur is bestudeer ten einde te verstaan of enige verbande tussen die teoretiese konstrukte gevind kan word. Verskeie hipoteses is geformuleer en 'n konseptuele model, waarin die verband tussen hierdie konstrukte verduidelik word, is ontwikkel. Daarna, is die gepostuleerde verwantskappe en die konseptuele model empiries met behulp van verskeie statistiese metodes getoets. Bestaande meetinstrumente is in hierdie studie gebruik en sluit in die ‘Cultural Diversity Belief Scale,’ (Rentsch, Tulband, Hissong, Jenkins & Marrs, 1995), die ‘Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory,’ (Palmer, Stough & Gignac, 2008), en die ‘Reaction-To-Diversity-Inventory,’ (De Meuse & Hostager, 2001). Die steekproef het bestaan uit 237 gekose individue uit verskillende Suid-Afrikaanse organisasies. Die inhoud en die struktuur van die konstrukte wat deur die instrumente gemeet is, is deur middel van bevestigende en verkennende faktorontledings ondersoek. Die resultate dui daarop dat in al die gevalle, die verfynde metingsmodelle goeie passings getoon het. Daarna is Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) gebruik om te bepaal tot watter mate die konseptuele model die data pas, en om die verwantskappe tussen die konstrukte te toets wanneer die volledige konseptuele model in ag geneem is. Algeheel is daar goeie passing vir die strukturele model gevind. Regressie-analises het ook ‘n mate van bevestiging vir die gestelde hipoteses gevind. Agt van die tien hipoteses is was in hierdie studie bevestig. Alhoewel verskeie belangrike verwantskappe tussen die latente veranderlikes gevind is, is daar 'n unieke resultaat gevind met betrekking tot die positiewe verband tussen die eksogene latente veranderlike, emosionele intelligensie, en die endogene latente veranderlikes van waardering van individuele verskille en positiewe perseptuele diepte. Hierdie positiewe verwantskappe verskaf empiriese bewyse vir die beduidende verband tussen emosies, houdings en persepsies. Verder, het die analise van die modifikasie indekse vir die strukturele model aangedui dat die byvoeging van ‘n addisionele roete waarskynlik die bestaande strukturele model se passing kan verbeter. Aanbevelings word ten slotte gemaak in terme van moontlike rigtings vir toekomstige navorsing.

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