The complicated concept of inclusion; How the perception of inclusion of ethnic minority employees is influenced by the behavior of the supervisor
he Netherlands is a country with a high degree of ethnic diversity nowadays (Vasta, 2007). It is important that also the ethnic minority employees are included in the organizations. A high perception of inclusion leads to positive outcomes for both the employee and the organization (Jansen Otten, Van der Zee & Jans, 2014; Shen, Chanda, D’Netto & Monga, 2009; Shore, Randel, Chung, Dean, Ehrhart & Singh, 2011). Leaders are important in the perception of inclusion of employees (Cottrill, Lopez and Hoffman, 2014). In the existing literature there is still limited known about the behavior of leaders which is linked with a greater perception of inclusion of employees (Shore et al., 2011). Furthermore, there is also limited research on ‘how’ leadership behavior is linked to a greater perception of inclusion (Cottrill et al., 2014). The aim of this research is to describe how the perception of inclusion of ethnic minority employees is influenced by the behavior of the supervisor, in order to contribute to the debate of the perception of inclusion in organizations. The research question which will be answered in this research is: ‘How are the perceptions of inclusion of ethnic minority employees influenced by the behavior of the supervisor?’ A qualitative research method with a case study is used for this research. Twelve semi-structured interviews were done with ethnic minority employees who worked at the Dutch logistic organization. These interviews were transcribed, open codes were used and there was searched for overlapping themes in the data. These themes were then used for another round of analysis of the individual interviews for searching for similarities and differences in these themes. Based on this method, the data is analyzed. This research found that the perception of inclusion of ethnic minority employees are influences by the following behaviors of the supervisor: the supervisor should be interested in the employees, involve the employees in what happens in the organization, and have attention for the different nationalities. The relationship the employees have with their supervisor also influence their perception of inclusion but it differs between the employees how the supervisor should behave in this relationship. Some employees want their supervisor to behave like a friend, other employees want their supervisor to keep some distance and treat everybody the same. The perception of inclusion of the employees who want to grow within the organization is also influenced by the supportive behavior of the supervisor. Furthermore this research found that the concept of inclusion which is often used is not applicable to all people. There are differences in what people perceive as inclusion. These differences automatically lead todifferences in how the employees perception of inclusion is influenced by the behavior of the supervisor, which is also found in this research. This research has a few major contributions. First of all, an answer is found on ‘how’ leadership behavior is linked to a greater perception of inclusion of employees. This was a gap in the literature but is here answered. Secondly, a direct link is found between leadership and the perception of inclusion. Earlier research on the link between leadership and inclusion mostly focused on leaders influence on the inclusive culture, not directly on the perception of inclusion (Pless and Maak, 2004; Wasserman, Gallegos, Ferdman, 2007). The third contribution of this research is that in contrast to earlier research on inclusion of ethnic minorities, language is the main cause of perception of exclusion. Earlier research stated that culture was the main cause of this. The fourth contribution of this research is that an ethnic minority group became the ethnic majority of the department. This fact influenced their perception of inclusion. Another contribution is that the existing literature on the concept of inclusion is not applicable to all employees. There are differences in the perception of inclusion between employees, something which is hardly found in the existing literature on inclusion. Finally, based on the differences of inclusion, this research shows that it that how the supervisor’s behavior influence the perception of inclusion of the employees is not always the same. It differs between groups of employees and if they want to grow in the organization. Two of the five behaviors of the supervisors found in this research are only influencing the perception of inclusion for certain groups of employees.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen