| HBS Working Paper Series
A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations
In this article, we distinguish between positive findings in diversity research and a positive approach to studying diversity. We first review and integrate research on diversity from organizational behavior, social psychology and sociology from 1998-2010 that has already documented positive findings in relation to diversity. We discuss this research using two broad categories: (1) What is positively affected by diversity? (Positive for what)? This category consists of research that has shown instances of intergroup equality, positive intergroup relations and the high performance of diverse groups. (2) When is diversity positive (Positive when)? This category describes organizational and individual level conditions under which intergroup outcomes, relations and group performance are positive. Second, we discuss a positive approach to studying diversity and describe some examples of organizational scholarship that has taken such an approach. We also discuss some of the limitations of taking a positive approach to diversity and propose some ways in which diversity scholars interested in taking a positive approach can overcome these limitations. By illuminating both positive findings in diversity research and a positive approach to studying diversity, we hope to spark more research that examines the beneficial and empowering aspects of difference for individuals and groups in organizations.
Keywords: Diversity Characteristics;
Groups and Teams;
Equality and Inequality;
Ramarajan, Lakshmi, and David Thomas. "A Positive Approach to Studying Diversity in Organizations." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 11–024, September 2010.