Diversity Management Efforts as an Ethical Responsibility: How Employees’ Perceptions of an Organizational Integration and Learning Approach to Diversity Affect Employee Behavior

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This paper integrates the inclusion and organizational ethics literatures to examine the relationship between employees’ perceptions of an organizational integration and learning approach to diversity and two employee outcomes: organizational citizenship behavior toward the organization and interpersonal workplace deviance. Findings across two field studies from the USA and Germany show that employees’ perceptions of an organizational integration and learning approach to diversity are positively related to perceived organizational ethical virtue. Perceived organizational ethical virtue further transmits the effect of employees’ perceptions of an organizational integration and learning approach to diversity on both organizational citizenship behavior toward the organization and interpersonal workplace deviance. In addition, we find support for a moderated indirect effect model whereby the indirect effect of the perceived integration and learning approach to diversity on the dependent variables through perceived organizational ethical virtue is stronger when employees have high personal value for diversity rather than low personal value for diversity. These results underscore the importance of having a fit between employees’ perceptions of an organization’s approach to diversity and employees’ personal value for diversity in order for inclusion to result in positive employee behaviors. Results emphasize the ethical responsibility of organizations in terms of how they approach diversity.

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  1. 1.

    In the US study (i.e., Study 1), we used scales with verbal anchors for each response option throughout. Thus, in the German study (i.e., Study 2), we also aimed to verbally anchor each response option. However, for a six- or seven-point Likert-type scale, it is difficult to find distinct verbal anchors in the German language for “partly agree”/“partly disagree” and “slightly agree”/“slightly disagree” for which participants can easily see the difference. Therefore, we decided to consistently use a five-point Likert-type scale with verbal anchors in German that participants can easily understand and differentiate. Otherwise, we would only have been able to label the end points and—if applicable—the middle point of the scale, which would have been inconsistent to the US study.

  2. 2.

    This includes people with migration background. In 2015, about 11% of the German population were people with German nationality and migration background (Statistisches Bundesamt 2017).


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The authors thank the master students participating in the HR/OB project seminar at the Technische Universität Kaisers-lautern, Germany, in 2014/2015 for their help with the data collection in Germany. The authors are grateful to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that helped improve earlier drafts of this paper.

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Correspondence to Tanja Rabl.

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Tanja Rabl, María del Carmen Triana, Seo-Young Byun, and Laura Bosch declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Rabl, T., del Carmen Triana, M., Byun, S. et al. Diversity Management Efforts as an Ethical Responsibility: How Employees’ Perceptions of an Organizational Integration and Learning Approach to Diversity Affect Employee Behavior. J Bus Ethics 161, 531–550 (2020).

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  • Deviant behavior
  • Ethical virtue
  • Ethics
  • Inclusion
  • Integration and learning approach to diversity
  • Organizational citizenship behavior
  • Personal value for diversity