Management of Cultural Diversity
Globalization means movement. People, images, symbols, information, capital, goods and so on increasingly move from one corner of the world to another and people communicate with other people many miles away. As a consequence, individual people are increasingly facing different influences and ideas from other parts of the world. People with a Catholic or Calvinist inspiration speaking Italian or Dutch meet with other people with a Hindu or Candomblè background speaking Hindi or Portuguese and feel challenged or inspired by each other. Global communication media like the internet and means of rapid transportation facilitate such encounters. The same holds true for multinational organizations that expand globally and thus incorporate people with all kinds of cultural orientations in their workforce. Organizations and societal fields such as the labour market, education, health care and arts and culture are increasingly made up of employees and citizens with different identities and have to deal with customers and citizens with diverse orientations and world views.
Thus, globalization and cultural diversity turn societal fields and organizations into very dynamic places and render individual experiences very exciting but perhaps also menacing to some extent. Societal fields, organizations and individual people are challenged by people speaking different languages, having different norms and values and adhering to different religions, which leads to new encounters and exchanges but also to confrontations and tensions. In many countries this new cultural diversity triggered by globalizations comes on top of already existing diversity in terms of languages, religions, ethnicities and racial groups, like in India, Spain, The Netherlands, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey. Numerous questions are raised in this framework, such as:
- What does it mean to a hospital when patients with various religious beliefs need tailor-made care?
- How are production and service delivery affected when people from all parts of the world come together to communicate and work in a company?
- What are the consequences when citizens representing different identities, traditions, languages and beliefs send their children to mixed schools?
- Do people with different ethnic backgrounds get equal opportunities in the labour market?
Cultural diversity entails both risks and opportunities. Risks: think of miscommunication, conflict and exclusion. Opportunities: think of innovating ideas, creativity and renewal of production and service delivery. Consequently, there is need for management, policy and intervention to deal with these risks and opportunities, i.e. to neutralize the risks and take advantage of the opportunities presented by cultural diversity. There are no standard management and policy solutions available so far. New answers need to be developed in each specific case, place, organization or field based on a sound understanding of the issues involved at that moment and in that particular context.
The aim of our Master's program in Management of Cultural Diversity is, first, to equip students with the necessary expertise, tools and skills to analyze cases of cultural diversity in organizations and societal fields like education, health care, labour market and arts and culture. Second, based on such an analysis they will be able to design management interventions to neutralize the risks and to take advantage of the opportunities stemming from cultural diversity. Tilburg University is well positioned to offer such a program. It disposes of high-level and internationally oriented expertise in the various relevant academic fields, embodied by teaching staff firmly embedded in and intellectually nourished by relevant research programs.