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Diversity at work

Research written by several hands sheds some light on the role of differences in the organisation of production and company networks

There is no doubt about it: a workplace and production organisation that fosters the exchange of experiences and ideas is what is necessary for a company to grow. Diversity and imagination at the workbench. Which also means greater flexibility, the ability to react more efficiently to change, speed and readiness. While these are some of the features of a strong company, one needs to look more closely at the organisational box to understand more about the concern.

This is what, from a certain perspective, John W. Upson (from the Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia, USA), Naga Lakshmi Damaraju (from the  Indian School of Business, Gachibowli, Hyderabad, Telangana, India) have done, together with Jonathan R. Andersonn (of the Richards College of Business, University of West Georgia, USA), and Jay B. Barney (David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah).

In the article which was published a few weeks ago in the European Management Journal, these researchers start off with a premise: these days diversity within the strategic company networks is looked upon keenly and presented as a source of ideas and opportunities. Yet networks can always get tangled if they are not managed properly; and diversity can create chaos, also taking into account that there may be different degrees and types of diversity itself.

Based on the literature available and on the indications of cognitive psychology, the authors of “Strategic networks of discovery and creation entrepreneurs” explain that in actual fact the level of diversity in strategic company networks varies according to the nature of the entrepreneurial opportunities, on the context and on the level of competition. Thus different corporate cultures are outlined, each worthy of being understood and investigated.

The authors then identify two possible cases. The first is indicated as the “context of discovery” whereby the entrepreneurs tend to use the networks of links with individuals who are relatively similar to themselves. In other words, we discover what in actual fact already exists. The second possible case is indicated as the “context of creation”, where network links with people who are relatively different from the entrepreneur tend to be used. This is where diversity plays a more important role. With all the stresses and problems which the search for what is actually new can entail.

Then everything changes again – it is underlined – according to the “material” and to the “sector” in which the company does business.

Strategic networks of discovery and creation entrepreneurs” is a good read better to understand the subtle links between corporate organisation, its components and the end results.

Strategic networks of discovery and creation entrepreneurs

John W. Upson, Naga Lakshmi Damaraju,  Jonathan R. Andersonn, Jay B. Barney

European Management Journal, online 30 January 2017