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Multicultural employees: A framework for understanding how they contribute to organizations

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Organizations are now experiencing a rise in a new demographic of employees – bicultural and multicultural individuals. They are individuals who have multiple cultural identities because they have internalized multiple cultural schemas. In this dissertation, I propose that two dimensions that can be used to describe multicultural identity patterns: identity plurality and identity integration. Identity integration is the extent to which individuals integrate their cultural identities versus keeping them separate, while identity plurality refers to the number of primary cultural identities, ranging from one to many. Hypotheses are developed about the antecedents and outcomes of each identity dimension, and the moderating effects of organizational identification and diversity climate. A pilot study was followed by three correlational studies to test the framework, with a total of 771 participants. Based on descriptive, OLS regression and hierarchical regression analyses, the findings show that multiculturals with high identity plurality reported higher levels of psychological toll, higher structural social capital, and higher levels of action and analytical skills than those with low identity plurality. Multiculturals who separated their cultural identities reported higher levels of psychological toll, and action and analytical skills than those who integrated their identities. Organizational identification moderated the relationship between identity plurality and cultural metacognition at work, such that the positive relationship existed only for employees who were weakly identified with their organizations. Diversity climate further moderated this effect, such that in strong diversity climates, the interaction of organizational identification and identity plurality was more pronounced than in weak diversity climates. When employees perceived a weak diversity climate, there was no relationship between identity plurality and cultural metacognition, regardless of the degree to which employees identified with the organization. The framework presented in this dissertation provides a theoretical basis for studying unique multicultural identity patterns, relative to other multicultural identity patterns, and systematically examines multicultural employees within the context of their organizations.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Thomas, David C.
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