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Theories of Diversity within Organisation Studies: Debates and Future Trajectories


  • Maddy Janssens

    (K.U.Leuven, Organisation Studies, Leuven, Belgium)

  • Chris Steyaert

    (University of St Gallen, Chair of Organizational Psychology, St Gallen, Switzerland)


Theories on diversity and diversity management within the field of Organisation Studies started to develop in the 80s, mainly under the influence of managerial reports pointing towards the increasing diversity of the future workforce. The purpose of this paper is to 1) review the existing studies on diversity identifying their main purposes, 2) identify the current debates in the field, and 3) point towards possible future directions. the domain has mainly focused on the consequences of diversity and seems to have neglected theoretical reflections on the notions of ‘diversity,’ ‘difference,’ or the ‘other.’ This need for theorising has been indicated by well-known scholars in the field (e.g. Cox, 1995; Nkomo, 1995; 2000; Nkomo & Cox, 1996), concerned about the continuation of the diversity domain. Within these current debates, the authors identified mainly four issues: a narrow or broad definition of diversity, a stable or dynamic conception of identity, the role of power, and the importance of the socio-historical context.

Suggested Citation

  • Maddy Janssens & Chris Steyaert, 2003. "Theories of Diversity within Organisation Studies: Debates and Future Trajectories," Working Papers 2003.14, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2003.14

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    Identity; diversity; difference; organization studies;

    JEL classification:

    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General

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