The influence of cultural mindset on polyculturalism in organizations
In the modern, globalizing world, where organizations are becoming increasingly diverse, the understanding of polyculturalism in organizations is of great importance. Polyculturalism is based on the idea that cultures are constantly changing and merging through interethnic or intercultural connections. But how does the individual cultural mindset of employees influence this polyculturalism? A recent article by Huang, Yang & Kung (2023) delves deeper into this issue and highlights the importance of cultural mindset in this context.
What is cultural mindset?
Mindset, in general, refers to beliefs about whether certain attributes are static or changeable. In the context of culture, people have different beliefs about the nature of culture and cultural differences. Some emphatically have a fixed cultural mindset, which suggests that certain cultural aspects are unchangeable and biologically determined. Others have a more flexible cultural mindset, seeing culture as changeable and influenced by social factors and experiences.
Research by Kung et al. (2018) shows that cultural mindsets determine how people deal with cultural diversity, both in their daily personal interactions and in the workplace.
Cultural mindset and polyculturalism
Huang, Yang and Kung identify three possible pathways through which cultural mindset can have an impact in a polycultural organization:
- Joint effects: The way people think about culture (cultural mindset) and the organization's approach to different cultures (polyculturalism) have a mutual influence on how intercultural relationships and results develop within an organization. An example of this is that employees who believe that cultures can change and evolve (have a flexible cultural mindset) often have a more positive attitude towards people from other cultural backgrounds. These employees are also more likely to actively seek opportunities to make connections with colleagues from different cultures, which promotes cross-cultural collaboration within the organization.
- Moderation: Employees' individual beliefs about culture can influence how the organizational approach to polyculturalism is experienced. There are studies, such as that of Kung et al. (2023) , that suggest that when an employee's personal beliefs align well with the organization's diversity ideologies, the positive effects of those ideologies are enhanced. This is called the “fit” effect. It means that if an organization promotes an approach to polyculturalism and an employee strongly believes in it, the benefits for both parties are greater.
- Influencing mindset: An organization's approach to cultures (polyculturalism) can change the way people think about and respond to cultural differences. For example, when an organization promotes a polycultural ideology and emphasizes that cultures continually evolve through social interactions, this helps employees develop a more flexible attitude toward culture. They then realize that cultures are not fixed, but are shaped by how society constructs and experiences them.
Implications for organizations
Understanding the interaction between polyculturalism and cultural mindset is important for organizations striving for effective diversity management. By understanding and managing both organizational policies and employees' personal beliefs, organizations can maximize the benefits of polyculturalism.
For example, organizations can offer training to promote a flexible cultural mindset, which can not only strengthen intercultural relationships but also strengthen and maintain polyculturalism in organizations.
In a world where organizations are becoming increasingly diverse, it is essential to consider both the cultural mindset of individual employees and broader organizational diversity ideologies. By bringing these two factors together, organizations can create a more inclusive, understanding and productive work environment.