RAINBOW WORKFORCE: INTRODUCTION

 INTRODUCTION

Cross cultural conflicts now have spread like organizational epidemic causing concern to the global organizations. The negative behavioral interplay of the rainbow workforce affects the overall efficiency. On the desk, professionals are involved in the dynamic flow of interpersonal relationships; often confront issues of uncertainty and conflict. It is observed that whenever a person faces conflicting behavior, he dips into a personal meaning reservoir and selects an appropriate meaning (Bergeron, 2000; Dana, 2001; Ormrod, 1995, Samovar, Porter & Jain, 1981). The highly dynamic demographics of a global society constantly supplies increasing opportunities for cross-cultural contacts within the community and work place, making effective intercultural communication a necessity. Hiebert (1985), an anthropologist, commented: “It is estimated that in normal communication within the same culture, people understand only about 70 percent of what is said. In cross-cultural situations the level is probably not above 50 percent.” This inability to communicate across cultural is often reflected through conflict. This conflict may produce constructive or negative results (Grab, 1996). Johnson (1994) stated such results have been categorized and referred to as functional and dysfunctional, if positive results develop synergistic output with a lot of benefits, the destructive results are seen in the form of violence and aggression in society as a whole. Johnson (1996) further commented on the significance of managing conflict situations before behaviors become destructive and result in violence. Primary Education

The South African, which is an amalgamation of many cultures and races, is often faced with the challenges of finding creative, non-violent solutions for the inevitable conflicts of a multicultural workforce. To best supply the desired expectations and further, in response to the studied trend, educators should put in the efforts to develop an understanding of cultural elements, with the purpose of creating positive cross-cultural interaction and will certainly lead to the resolution of conflicts (Myers, Buoye, McDermott, Strickler & Ryman, 2001; Weaver, 1995). It is observed that the positive result of reduced conflict in a school has been the cause of improved students’ performances (Johnson, 1996). Such outcomes at times indicate and emphasize the need for purposeful conflict management through structured strategy. Global business units comprising multicultural organizations are facing the mal-results of dysfunctional outcomes of conflict on everyday basis. Waters (1992) rightly comment “It is axiomatic that a diversity itself.” Such factors need immediate address with serious ramifications for an organization. The following example depicts the picture more sharply. Piturro and Mahoney (1992) in their study describe the incidences of an American based company, Corning, Inc., which discovered in the mid-1980’s that the attrition rate of women and minorities in the company was twice the attrition rate of white men, and that this cost the company three million dollars per year. Besides, a high turnover rate among employees is one of the core outcomes of conflict. It’s been constantly recorded by the researchers that there is a great fall in productivity and performance whenever people feel devalued or they develop a feeling of conflict (Horowitz & Boardman, 1994). Johnson (1994) attempted to list down dysfunctional outcomes as reduced communication; less effective interactions; decreased problem solving; demoralized employees; and chaos. Horowitz and Boardman (1994) observed that business organizations are dealing with more number of cultural conflicts because of the increasingly diverse work force across the world. Horowitz and Boardman (1994), sincerely advised to structure a model of conflict management which truly encompasses different dimensions of cultures and prevalent value systems. Piturro and Mahoney (1992) expressed the critical comment in context of a multicultural work force: “But now that we’ve assembled a rainbow work force, there’s only one problem—how to make it work effectively.” Johnson (1994) commented an analytical view on conflict management adding that the factors, which affect the outcome of conflict, are the amount of conflict and the management of conflict. Rubin (1994) supported the need of conflict management about the importance of broadening people’s perspective through ideas which originate in other cultures. Wall and Callister (1995) were also of the opinion and emphasized the need for researchers to investigate cultural influences on conflict management more rigorously and meticulously. It is worth paying earnest attention that the change from a homogenous to a multicultural workforce requires leaders to develop new cross-cultural skills because such skills have the capacity of tremendously infuse new energy and creativity into the workforce. However, the process of communication and conflict management is intricate in nature. Studies prove that the dangers of being misunderstood gets multiplied when working with people in a cross-cultural organization or in such set ups. The need of the hour is to reframe the behavioral dynamics since earlier theories of management and motivation applied to a homogenous workforce (Tan, Morris & Romero, 1996). Piturro and Mahoney (1992) in their studies explained that the positive results of diversity comprises of multifaceted structuring in product development and sales and decides a competitive edge in the global environment which works as a redefined managerial mission and ultimately makes room for a new behavioral definitions resulting increased morale and productivity. It is worth acknowledging that diversity may be the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century but it is true that because of sophisticated technology, diversity is a most commonly found factor in the global society particularly in today’s business practices.