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02/08/2012

Research Proposal On Effective Performance Management In A Culturally-Diverse Workplace


INTRODUCTION

 

This paper discusses research proposal on effective performance management in a culturally-diverse workplace. Specifically, the research will focus on how performance management impacts job satisfaction among black employees in the public sector. In this research proposal, the problem, context and theme of the study are presented; the objectives of the study and the research statements are formulated. Here, vital concepts, questions and assumptions are stated. The proposal also provides a brief review of literature related to the topic. Finally, the scope and limitation of the study and the methodology to be used are discussed.

 

The impetus for undertaking this study stems from my belief that racism is still blatant in the UK, especially in the workplace. I have observed and gathered initial data pertaining racial discrimination so I find it necessary to investigate manifestations of biases. Generally, the purpose of the research is to conduct a descriptive study on the current performance management and how this addresses the issue of racial equality in the workplace. Specifically, the study will attempt to determine the perception of black employees in London relating to their work. This study will also discuss job satisfaction and the black people’s opportunities for career growth. The study will furnish discussions made by other authors regarding relating performance management to cultural diversity.

 

The focus of this problem statement is to analyse the sentencing process of the US criminal justice. Literature shows that it is biased against black people and other racial minorities. For the purpose of this study, the researcher shall test the validity of the null hypothesis, “Racial minorities, especially black people, feel that the police and the courts favour white people and are biased against them

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

Black Employment in London

According to the Greater London Authority (2002), there are currently 28 percent black and ethnic minorities in London, which will increase to nearly 31 percent by 2011. GLA (2002), in its report on black people employment, has recognised that London has failed and is continuing to fail many of its black and minority ethnic communities. Most minority communities face unacceptable levels of unemployment, deprivation and discrimination.

The GLA (2002) report shows that members of minority groups in the public sector are over-represented in lower valued jobs; while it seems that those in jobs which offer advancement do not to reach the same levels of seniority as white workers of the same experience.  Moreover, this under-representation of black and minority ethnic workers in professional and managerial positions ultimately affects service providers in tackling the problems arising from deprivation and discrimination; this also raises questions about the effectiveness with which the public sector has implemented equal opportunities policies in the past. 

In the last two decades, the structure of employment in London has undergone fundamental changes, with enormous job losses in manufacturing industries and job growth in services. As part of this process, more of the workforce employed in high valued 'knowledge economy' occupations and in low valued occupations, while far less are employed in the medium earning strata. Members of most minority ethnic groups are also more likely to be in part-time employment than the majority population. Nearly 24 per cent of black and minority ethnic Londoners who are in employment are working part-time (GLA, 2002).

Changes in the labour market in recent years have tended to further existing practice of inequality.  London's labour market has become increasingly polarised in terms of the kinds of jobs people do and the rewards they receive, showing a clear ethnic bias, with black and minority ethnic groups having generally poorer outcomes than white Londoners (GLA, 2002). According to the report, much of black people in London are employed in public sector: Forty per cent of black women and 23 per cent of black men. Of the 732,000 Londoners employed in the public sector, 170,000 are black and minority ethnic groups.

According to the Commission for Racial Equality (1996) when applying for employment, black applicants are less likely to be invited to interviews or be offered a position despite having similar qualifications to white applicants. In their study of the recruitment of doctors, Esmail and Everington (1993) found that applications were rejected disproportionately on the basis of names that were or appeared to be of black and minority ethnic origin.   

In the education sector, 11 per cent of teachers in London are of black and minority ethnic origin. In inner London black and minority ethnic teachers make up just under 14 per cent of the teaching force, compared to just over eight per cent in Outer London.  In health and social services, black and minority ethnic nurses make up almost eight per cent of the total workforce, but less than one per cent of directors of nursing. There are signs that younger black people may be less willing to enter public sector jobs, such as nursing, than earlier generations. Nearly 25 per cent of nurses aged over 55 years old in Britain are black or Asian, compared with less than three per cent of those aged under 25 (Department of Health, 1999).  In 1997, almost five per cent of nurses registered in 1997 in the UK were of black Caribbean and African origin (GLA, 2002). 

In 2001, there were almost eight percent black staff and 81 percent white in the social service sector in England. However, in London, 57 percent were white and just under 31 percent were black and ethnic minorities. In the Inner London boroughs, the proportion of black and minority ethnic staff was higher, at 40 per cent, with just under 30 per cent of black origin (Personal Social Services Staff of Social Services Departments, 2001).  

Ethnic minorities are under-represented in all grades as employees in the police service, prison service and in senior posts in all criminal justice agencies, although there have been small improvements over the years (The Home Office, 2000).  Following the Macpherson Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, the Home Secretary set targets for the recruitment of people from minority ethnic groups into the police forces of England and Wales. In September 2001, there were a total of 3,134 black and minority ethnic police officers, making up 2.5 per cent of the national total (GLA, 2002).

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

The views on effective management of diversity in general and cultural diversity in particular, are scattered and it is hard to find a common line of agreement among the earlier writers. In one stream, there are writers arguing that a culturally mixed work force holds a potential competitive advantage for organizations (e.g., Cox and Blake, 1991; Mandrell and Kohler-Gray, 1990). In another stream are the writers who stress that similarity helps to develop cohesion which, in turn, is related to the success of a group. There are some other authors whose position lies in the middle of these streams (e.g., Adler, 1986).

 

Leadership is a key issue in the development of groups, organizations and nations (DeMeuse, 1986). The study of leadership plays a crucial role in the behavioural and management sciences. It is generally accepted that good leadership is essential to the functioning of an organization. It may be useful to think of the leadership process as the interaction between the situation, the leader, and the followers.

 

Culture is an important factor in understanding organisation, because for any organisation to operate effectively it must for some extent have a general set of beliefs and assumptions. Because understanding the term of the culture metaphor helps organisations to be aware of how employees are thinking about the organisation phenomena, and to recognize how different attitudes, value and beliefs affect the workplace. Understanding and assessing the national culture and organization's culture can mean the difference between success and failure in today's fast changing organisational environment. Cultural assessment can provide measurable data about the real organizational values and norms that can be used to get management's attention.

 

Any organization, may it be profit oriented or not-for-profit, the most vital asset is its employees. And for these organizations to maximize their assets, they should manage the employees’ working condition with intelligence and efficiency (Ulrich, 1998). They must be allowed to be involved in making work-related decisions to further enhance the organizational structure (Delaney & Huselid, 1996).

 

Furthermore, the structure of tasks among the employees strengthens the organizational performance (Wilson, 1989). It is therefore necessary to understand the employees for the organization to be effective (Schneider, 1983). The development, building, motivation, enhancement and enrichment of the employees of any organization largely depend on the leadership, mandate and vision of the organization (Rainey & Steinbauer, 1999). People make or break the organization. Therefore, it is necessary for organizations to be proactive with regard to their employees’ needs and requirements. 

 

According to Barbeschi (2002), the process of making an organization is simultaneously the growth and maintenance of relationships among individuals who are working towards a common goal and the actual accomplishment of tasks, individually and collectively. In any organization, there exists a cultural/political dimension (Barbeschi, 2002). It includes rituals and myths, symbols and games. Due to the common behaviour, an internal integration within the organization is developed. In a sense, all cultural learning reflects the original values of individuals and their sense of what ought to be as distinct from what is. 

 

Performance Management

Performance management (PM) is a strategic HRM process that enables any business to continuously evaluate and improve individual, subsidiary unit, and corporate performance against clearly defined, preset objectives that are directly linked to company strategy (Dowling et al., 1999). A number of studies have suggested that design and implementation of PM has the potential to affect employee attitudes in a way that makes a significant and positive contribution to company performance (Fletcher and Williams, 1997; Rheem, 1996;).

 

Performance management appeared in the late 1980s and can be regarded as an extension of performance appraisal. Today, however, performance appraisal is considered as one of several key elements of PM (Tahvanainen, 1998), the others being the communication of company strategy through individual objective setting, links to training and development planning, and possibly compensation (Mabey and Salaman, 1995). Despite the fact that much of the research has been performed within the U.S. context, little research has been carried out on PM in international settings (Dowling et al., 1994; Vance et al., 1992).

 

It is well known that employees with negative attitudes are likely to perform poorly, cause disruptions in operations, and eventually jeopardize the viability of the organization. Furthermore, it has been documented that job satisfaction is related to turnover (e.g., Robbins, 1998). As Bjorkman, Lasserre, and Ching (1997) have noted, job satisfaction and turnover are increasing challenges for any businesses.

 

Various aspects of PM have been studied in both the international and comparative contexts. For instance, scholars have addressed such issues as the impact of national culture on management by objectives (Hofstede, 1991; Logger et al., 1995), differences in management style and performance appraisal in different countries (Vance et al., 1992), and national culture and its impact on PM/performance appraisal (Lindholm, et al. 1999; Mendonca and Kanungo, 1997; Snape et al., 1998).

 

Most studies have commonly concentrated on individual elements of PM in isolation--for example, on objective setting (e.g. Locke and Latham, 1984), on employee participation in objective setting (e.g., Dipboye and de Pontbriand, 1981), and on conveying performance feedback (e.g., DeGregorio and Fisher, 1988). Even though it could be assumed that multiple elements of PM would influence employee job satisfaction, only a few studies have presented evidence that the presence of elements such as job objectives, performance feedback, subordinate participation in PM, and the presence of a career discussion produces a positive change in employee job satisfaction (Fletcher and Williams, 1997; Roberts and Reed, 1996).

 

Research on job satisfaction is derived from human-relations theory and argues that individuals develop positive job attitudes if their jobs allow them to fulfil their needs (Maslow, 1954). Various factors have been shown to affect employees' job satisfaction--for example, the nature of the work, promotion opportunities, equitable rewards, supervision, supportive working conditions, and colleagues (Robbins, 1998). Employees are motivated not only by extrinsic needs but also, more importantly, by positive job-related factors such as skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback (Hackman and Oldham, 1976). It has been argued that if skill variety, task identity, and task significance exist in a job, the incumbent will view the job as important, valuable, and worthwhile. In addition, if the job grants autonomy, it gives the employee a feeling of personal responsibility for the results, and, if it provides feedback, the employee will know how effectively she or he is performing (Robbins, 1998).

 

PM is an important process for influencing both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations of employees, that is, increasing employees' perceptions and understanding of job tasks and subsequently their job satisfaction. For example, elements of PM may provide the employee with a more accurate understanding of job tasks through objective setting, leading to a clear sense of direction. PM also serves to focus employee efforts and attention on critical tasks through the use of performance feedback, which therefore assists employees in reducing job errors and minimizing the risks of learning through trial and error.

 

Performance management commonly emphasizes the communication of organizational goals by integrating them into departmental and, more specifically, individual-level goals and job objectives (Fletcher and Williams, 1997). Some scholars have suggested that the method by which objectives are set is not important, since both styles increase goal commitment (Locke and Latham, 1984). Other scholars have argued that the goal attainment of employees may be higher where they are able to contribute to the formulation of job objectives since their understanding of how to attain the objectives may thus be increased (DeGregrio and Fisher, 1988; Latham and Wexley, 1994).

 

Performance management commonly entails a formal performance evaluation as well as informal performance feedback about progress toward objectives (Foot and Hook, 1996). Several scholars have argued that effective PM is dependent on employees' perceptions that they are receiving fair performance evaluations (Dipboye and de Pontbriand, 1981; Greenberg, 1986). However, perceptions of fair performance evaluations are contingent not only on the outcome, but also on the employees' understanding of the process by which their performance is evaluated (Latham and Wexley, 1994). It has also been shown that informal performance feedback is strongly correlated with job satisfaction (Wanguri, 1995). This has led to the assertion that performance feedback, where it is conveyed frequently and together with support from the manager, increases the acceptance of PM and satisfaction with the manager (Latham and Saari, 1979).

 

Komaki, Zlotnick and Jensen (1986) suggest three types of supervisory behaviours specifically related to employee performance. These levels are: (1) performance antecedents, (2) performance monitoring, and (3) performance consequences. The first refers to the preparation including training and instruction provided for successful task accomplishment; the second points to data collection and the evaluation of goal attainment and task accomplishment; the third relates to outcomes and rewards following task accomplishment.

 

Diversity training has the potential for better alignment with organizational diversity goals by importing self-efficacy principles in the training setting (Mager 1992). To impact individual diversity self-efficacy, diversity training must incorporate mastery, modelling and observational learning experiences. As a corollary to training, organizational leadership can be used effectively as models for appropriate diversity behaviours. According to Baron and Henderson (1995), as strategic leaders, managers, supervisors and upper level management could contribute to employee diversity self-efficacy by self-preparation and modelling of positive diversity change agent skills.

 

The type of leadership needed to meet the challenges of diversity must be simultaneously task specific, broad based and defused. 21st century leadership must go beyond managing diversity to exercising leadership in diversity (Buss, 2001). The incorporation of self-efficacy principles in diversity training and building diversity self-efficacy facilitate individual specific diversity leadership.

 

Diversity self-efficacy encompasses an element of individual self-evaluation and self-monitoring of personal actions and motivational outlooks. In this regard, performance monitoring becomes more a function of the individual employee's self-efficacy mechanisms rather than supervisory imposed monitoring practices and procedures. By facilitating efficacious beliefs regarding diversity and providing the appropriate environment for continued mastery and modeling, employees acquire leadership skills that enable them to create change in their specific work environments. These changes should provide needed impetus for greater and broader based effectiveness in all diversity arenas.

 

Leaders in organizations have implemented a number of methods in attempts to change the impact of diversity on workforce interactions and operational processes (Wentling & Palma-Riva, 1998). These methods include financial incentive systems, diversity as a component of performance evaluations, discipline to enforce higher individual employee accountability, executive level coordination and monitoring, and recognition and awards programs. In spite of these efforts the weight of the success of these and similar diversity initiatives is shouldered by organization training and education efforts (Carr-Ruffino, 1996; Owens, 1997). The concept of diversity education or training has become the primary and overarching change initiative for the vast majority of organizations (Johnson & O'Mara, 1992).

 

 

METHODOLOGY

There are three kinds of research methods, correlational, experimental and descriptive (Walliman & Baiche, 2001). The correlational research refers to studies in which the purpose is to discover relationship or association between variables. On the other hand, Landman (1988) summarises experiential research when he states that it is research designed to study cause and consequence. Basically, experimental research is the method that can be applied in a research laboratory.

This study will employ the descriptive research method using observation and surveys. In this method, it is possible that the study would be cheap and quick. Nonetheless, it would be very hard to rule out alternative explanations and especially infer causations. Descriptive research is a type of research that is primarily concerned with describing the nature or conditions and degree in detail of the present situation (Landman, 1988; Creswell, 1994). The emphasis in this type of research is to describe rather than to judge or to interpret. The aim of descriptive research is to verify formulated hypotheses that refer to the present situation in order to elucidate it.

According to Klopper (1990) researchers who use this method for their research usually aim at demarcating the population by means of perceiving accurately research parameters and recording in the form of a written report of that which has been perceived. Because the total population during a specific investigation can not be contemplated as a whole, researchers make use of the demarcation of the population or of the selection of a representative test sample. Test sampling therefore forms an integral part of descriptive research.

I opt to use this kind of research because I want to obtain first hand data from the respondents so as to formulate rational and sound conclusions and recommendations for the study. Moreover, this method allows me to utilise approaches that are more applicable in understanding a culture. The purpose of this study is to describe how cultural factors affect managers in managing a culturally diverse organisation.

 

To come up with pertinent findings and to provide credible recommendations, this study utilises two sources of research: primary and secondary.  Primary research data will be obtained through this new research study. Questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews will be conducted. On the other hand, the secondary research data will be obtained from previous studies on the same topic. 

 

The research described in this document is based on qualitative research methods because I intend to find and build theories that will explain the relationship of one variable with another variable through qualitative elements in research. Through this method, qualitative elements that do not have standard measures such as behaviour, attitudes, opinions, and beliefs will be analysed. 

 

Furthermore qualitative research can be multimethod in focus, involving an interpretative, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnected methods, hoping always to get a better fix on the subject matter at hand.

 

For this research design, I will gather data, collate published studies from different local and foreign universities and articles from social science journals; and make a content analysis of the collected documentary and verbal material.  Afterwards, the researcher will summarise all the information, make a conclusion based on the null hypotheses posited and provided insightful recommendations on the possibility of harmonising Kuwaiti clothing and Western clothing.

Closed questions type will be used for the survey.  A closed question is one that has pre-coded answers. The simplest is the dichotomous question to which the respondent must answer yes or no. Hague (1993) classified three types of questions: behavioural, attitudinal and classification. Behavioural questions seek factual information on what the respondents do or own; attitudinal questions intend to know what respondents think of something; and classificatory questions seek information that can be used to group respondents to see how they differ one from another. For this study, the above mentioned three types of closed questions will be used to analyse the behaviours and attitudes of the respondents toward a successful project teams.

Closed questions will be used because the answers are easy to analyse and are straightforward as target respondents are mostly busy that they do not have enough time to give attention to open questions. Closed response questions save the respondent having to think of possible replies. They also make the process easier for the interviewer who simply has to tick a box or circle a number. Moreover, they spare the coding staff difficult judgements which, if wrong, can skew the findings.

A sample is a finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole (Webster, 1985). When dealing with people, it can be defined as a set of respondents (people) selected from a larger population for the purpose of a survey. A population is a group of individuals persons, objects, or items from which samples are taken for measurement for example a population of presidents or professors, books or students.

Sampling is the act, process, or technique of selecting a suitable sample, or a representative part of a population for the purpose of determining parameters or characteristics of the whole population. To draw conclusions about populations from samples, we must use inferential statistics which enables us to determine a population’s characteristics by directly observing only a portion (or sample) of the population. Obviously, it is cheaper to observe a part rather than the whole, but we should prepare ourselves to cope with the dangers of using samples.

The population of the study will be composed of black employees in the public sector in London. This study will randomly select 125 samples from the population. For the interview part, I will select five human resource managers using a purposive sampling method.

 

To determine the needs of black employees with regard to such issues as harassment and discrimination in any level, I will prepare a questionnaire and a set of guide questions for the interview that will be asked to the intended respondents. The data collection instrument will be a structured questionnaire that will be designed and based on Likert scale. A Likert Scale is a rating scale that requires the subject to indicate his or her degree of agreement or disagreement with a statement. The respondents will grade each statement in the survey-questionnaire using a Likert scale with a five-response scale wherein respondents would be given five response choices.

 

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