Washington, Jan 12 (ANI): A new study has suggested that recognizing diversity can actually encourage people to help each other rather than sparking conflict.
"The standard assumption has been that group-based differences serve as the basis for distrust, disagreement, or dispute," said Geoffrey Leonardelli, a professor of management and psychology at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.
"However, we find that group-based differences can actually encourage cooperation across these group lines because they help to identify groups in need from groups that can give aid," he added.
In two field studies, both looking at the relations between local and foreign co-workers, the authors found that local employees were most apt to share work-related and cultural information with expatriate co-workers when they perceived their co-workers as foreigners.
They said that this effect occurred because recognizing expatriate and local differences helped locals become aware that their foreign co-workers was in need for knowledge on the local culture, and that they as local employees were experts to give it to them.
An important condition for such cooperation is that locals need also to perceive a sense of social justice within their organization.
"Recognizing group-based differences will not be perceived as useful unless individuals feel secure within their workplace or community," said co-author Soo Min Toh.
"We think that seeing authorities treat their employees fairly created that sense of security," he added.
The authors found that a sense of social justice also shifted employees' perceptions of diversity.
"We found that when employees felt that they were treated fairly by their employers, group-based differences were more likely to manifest as an 'us and them' mentality," said Toh.
So, instead of attempting to blend in to their surroundings, expatriates may find it more beneficial to let their foreign origins be known, said the researchers.
The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science. (ANI)