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Diplomarbeit, 2008, 230 Seiten
1.1The context: Ghana in Africa
1.1.1 A critique of the ‘Africa’ construct
1.1.2 Ghana – historical, demographic and empirical descriptions
1.2 Person-environment fit
1.2.1 Attribute domains
1.2.2 Relational demography
1.2.4 Theoretical background
1.2.5 The case of age
1.2.6 The case of personality
1.2.7 Context as a moderator
1.2.8 Tenure as a moderator
1.3 Individual and group level outcomes
1.3.1 Performance figures
1.3.2 Leader-Member Exchange
1.5 Concluding hypotheses
2.1 Study one
2.1.3 Data-assessment with repertory-grid technique
2.1.4 Structuring the constructs
2.1.5 Item generation
2.2 Study two
2.2.2 Used instruments and their psychometric qualities
2.2.3 Development of the Leader-Follower Relationship Scale (LFR)
2.2.4 Fit- and Diversity-Indices
2.2.5 Workgroup performance
2.2.6 Bank culture
3.2 Data Analyses with HLM
3.3 Person-Supervisor Fit results
3.4 Person-Workgroup Fit results
3.5 Workgroup diversity results
4.1 Results in detail
Appendix 1:Repertory Grid and questionnaire layouts
a) Repertory Grid layout
b) Leader questionnaire, study one
c) Leader questionnaire, study two
d) Follower questionnaire, study two
Appendix 2:RepGrid constructs
a) Structure of generated RepGrid constructs
b) Generated questionnaire items
c) Questionnaire expert ratings of repertory grid constructs
Appendix 3:Psychometrical properties of the used instruments
Table 1: African vs. western values
Table 2: A brief history of Ghana
Table 3: Ghana scores in the African Values survey
Table 4: Dimensions of diversity characteristics
Table 5: Demographic data, leaders
Table 6: Used RepGrid elements
Table 7: The resulting framework for structuring the repertory grid data
Table 8: Item examples
Table 9: Demographic data, leaders
Table 10: Demographic data, followers
Table 11: Used instruments
Table 12: Parameters for fit estimation of CFA models
Table 13: Items of initially used openness scale
Table 14: Remaining items of the Openness scale
Table 15: Openness to experience scale attributes
Table 16: Overall job satisfaction scale attributes
Table 17: Affective commitment scale attributes
Table 18: LMX composite and subscales attributes
Table 19: Positive affect scale attributes
Table 20: Subscales for assessing the leader-follower relationship
Table 21: Distribution of ethnical origin over regions and western expert’s superordinate coding
Table 22: Distribution of regional origin
Table 23: Person-Supervisor and -Workgroup fit indices
Table 24: Correlations of the different outcome scales
Table 25: Workgroup performance scale attributes
Table 26: Intercorrelations for Person-Supervisor Fit
Table 27: Intercorrelations for Person-Workgroup Fit
Table 28: Intercorrelations workgroup diversity
Table 29: Results P-S Fit
Table 30: Results for P-G Fit
Table 31: Workgroup diversity results
Table 32: Openness to experience
Table 33: Overall job satisfaction
Table 34: Affective commitment
Table 35: Encouragement
Table 36: Relationship style
Table 37: Leadership style
Table 38: Positive affect
Table 39: LMX-MDM
Table 40: Performance
Figure 1: Cultural clusters
Figure 2: Country distances
Figure 3: GLOBE society clusters
Figure 4: Value circumplex across cultures
Figure 5: Individualised and global leadership behaviour
Figure 6: Hypothesized relations of similarity, interpersonal dynamics and individual outcomes
Figure 7: Hypothesized impacts of diversity on group processes and outcomes
Figure 8: Distribution of leaders over banks, regions and branches
Figure 9: Example-row from a repertory grid interview
Figure 10: Distribution of leaders and followers across banks, regions and branches
Figure 11: CFA Openness
Figure 12: CFA Overall Job Satisfaction
Figure 13: CFA Affective Commitment
Figure 14: Multidimensional CFA LMX
Figure 15: CFA Positive Affect
Figure 16: CFA LFR scales
Figure 17: CFA Relationship Style
Figure 18: P-S sex Fit effects on LMX
Figure 19: P-S sex Fit effects on relationship style
Figure 20: P-S age Fit effects on affective commitment
Figure 21: P-S age Fit effects on LMX
Figure 22: P-S openness fit effects on LMX
Figure 23: P-S regional origin Fit effects on affective commitment
Figure 24: P-S regional origin Fit effects on supervisory Experience
Figure 25: P-G age Fit effects on affective commitment
Figure 26: P-G age Fit effects on LMX
Figure 27: P-G openness Fit effects on affective commitment
Figure 28: P-G openness Fit effects on LMX
Figure 29: P-G openness Fit effects on income
Figure 30: P-G regional origin Fit effects on supervisory experience
“Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Neger…”
Heinrich Lübcke (1962)
The present study is a blend of three different streams of psychology – cross-cultural, organizational and social psychology. It mixes cross-cultural ingredients about the context - the country Ghana and the continent Africa - with theories about the relevance of social categories in team building processes and spices from I/O psychology – dyadic leader-member exchange and relationship quality, group performance and the inner country context of banks. All to find an answer to the overarching question: Do social categories, more precisely their similarity in dyads or their fit between an individual and his or her workgroup, affect interpersonal relationship and group outcomes such as attitudes or performance in the banking system of the transitional economy Ghana?
Much has been written on the African way of life, thought and organization, but most of this work is restricted to ethnological knowledge which does not offer a robust theoretical basis, on which a psychological study can be built. The last years saw Africa ranking highest on development aid agendas like the Millennium Development Goals announced by the United Nations because most of the African countries, especially south of the Sahara, have been left behind by the development taking place in most parts of the underdeveloped world within the last fifty years. Many explanations have been attempted, but only a small volume of elaborate research has been undertaken. Often the traditional organization of individuals in clan like micro communities with their own chief and priest and so their own judicial, legislative and executive system is blamed together with a recent history of colonialism, creating country bodies without any historical eligibility and immense ethnic rivalry within and between them. This would have led to a tradition of favoritism and corruption along former and new lines of public organization. These claims are mostly made without empirical evidence and most likely oversimplify state of affairs where a closer look would be necessary. Often, these claims tend to explain the present exclusively by the past, concealing that by now there is a unique present state that might be explained by history as a necessary but not sufficient condition, as a heuristic story for today. Moreover, the thin ice crust of sound empirical studies available on African countries is over-generalized to the total territorial body of Sub-Saharan Africa, ignoring the immense diversity in this part of the world. Finally, most of the conducted studies incorporate western instruments without proven ecological validity, and arrive at conclusions about underlying constructs although the instruments show poor factor structures or internal consistencies.
After presenting some of these shortcomings in current research on Africa, the present study attempts to overcome at least some of these limitations. It focuses exclusively on Ghana and does not claim African universality. Still, the intra-Ghanaian context of the present study consists of organizational bodies that are found without large structural differences everywhere in the world – banks – and so allows for principle comparability of the results and highest possible content validity for the used western instruments. Banks are plausibly among the most modern of all organizations within the country, concerning human resource management, leadership and organizational structure, and so make up the perfect contrast foil for finding cultural peculiarities, guiding behavior in a transitional economy entrenched between the future and the past. This approach allows conclusions about which social categories will have to be handled with care in team building in future organizations to come when the development process progresses further.
The validity problem was addressed through a preparatory qualitative study, using the repertory grid technique, which created items for the questionnaire used in the subsequent quantitative study. Moreover, the western instruments like LMX were validated in Ghana for the first time.
The structure of this thesis reflects the problems faced during the literature review, data collection and data analysis. Most of them were clearly attributable to the context, Ghana, an African country, e.g.: the scarcity of literature in general; methodological flaws of either poor study design in studies conducted by Africans or little knowledge of context and culture, leading to wrong conclusions, in western studies; a high acquiescence bias, resulting in low differentiation and a meaningless overlap of variance; item wording that led to comprehensibility problems, mostly accounted for by western questionnaires. Most of these problems are reflected on in section 1.1 ‘The context: Ghana in Africa’, which can be understood as a preface, necessary for everyone new to psychological research on the African continent. Relevant psychological research considering Ghana is very sparse, so the superordinate entity – Africa – was examined. The section starts with a critique on the scientific treatment of Africa and might also be interesting for Africa veterans. In searching information about Ghana in Africa, it became clear that a psychological ‘Africa’ construct is the first faulty assumption when conducting research on this continent. Subsequently, the Ghanaian context is described in terms of history, ethnical composition and gender issues, and the few relevant studies that included Ghanaian samples are laid out - quite a colorful collage, ranging from cross-cultural to gender studies.
After these first two sections, the core theory of this thesis is derived from social and organizational psychology, subsumed under the person-environment fit agenda (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman & Johnson, 2005), incorporating relational demography (Tsui & O'Reilly, 1989) and workgroup diversity. There have been no studies in Ghana, not even in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa as a special case in many respects), at least none the author is aware of, which could be sorted under these headings. So after being pitched into Sub-Saharan Africa, the reader is suddenly surrounded by the psychological realities of Mexicans or Hong Kongese, while most of the presented research was conducted in the US. It might feel strange to find Africa or Ghana only rarely mentioned, but the previous sections already warned about invalid conclusions. The present study tries to combine two worlds, the African and the Western philosophy, the ethnological and the psychological method, the cross-cultural and the within-culture perspective. If these worlds would be the same, there would be no need for further research. The logic of compromise, of fitting things that appear not to fit, is pivotal for the present work, and its central methodological problem.
Section 1.3 provides theoretical information and empirical evidence concerning the instruments used in the study for measuring performance, leader-member exchange and the work related attitudes affective commitment and job satisfaction.
Section 1.4 describes philosophical fundamentals of constructivism, a useful framework for approaching cultural differences in general and the theoretical background for the repertory grid technique, used for developing an instrument to measure dyadic relationship quality with a Ghanaian item bias. Chapter 1 concludes with a summary and hypotheses.
The second chapter – methods – describes the two conducted studies, the qualitative preliminary and the quantitative main study, which had overlapping but not similar samples. The qualitative analysis is not presented in much detail, although it might be one of the most interesting parts, as it describes the construed reality of dyadic leader-follower work relations in Ghana. Instead the focus is on the generation of items for the second quantitative part. There, construct validity was a central issue; all scales were analyzed using internal consistencies, exploratory and more conservative confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The CFA results are depicted graphically to convey a feeling for the data structure. It is believed that an in-depth analysis of the scales is necessary for conducting any further computations. This analysis led to the omission of some scales and frustration about the apparent one-dimensionality of the newborn leader-follower relationship quality questionnaire, which even so overlapped with the western instrument for leader-member exchange quality assessment (LMX-MDM, Liden & Maslyn, 1998).
Results were computed using state of the art multilevel analysis, an approach only rarely found in person-environment fit research, although it gains more and more popularity. Its appeal lies in the partitioning of variance if data is nested. In the present study followers were nested in workgroups with one leader. This procedure is explained in detail in section two of the results chapter; for theoretical basics see e.g. Bryk and Raudenbush (1992). The statistical handling of person-supervisor fit is quite unique and was not found in the previous literature, most likely because it is not at all trivial. Most of the significant results are interactions and depicted graphically to support comprehensibility.
This thesis is long, and it took a long time to write it. Its length is due to handling the context and its peculiarities as non-trivial, to high methodological standards and the belief that graphics ease understanding. When the research started 2004, PsychInfo returned around 400 articles concerning Ghana, 2007 the number rose to around 550. This thesis will add up to the psychological knowledge available for Ghana and hopefully sharpens the senses for the scientific maltreatment of a whole continent. The African countries are more than a playground for ethnologists. Their societies and economies are in transformation, in transition. And maybe an unstable system is particularly suited to study its inherent rules. If psychologists want to learn about the context of human behavior, cognition and emotion, why do we ignore Africa? There might be no better place for such an endeavor.
The present study was conducted in Ghana, one of the territorially smaller African countries south of the Sahara, covering around two thirds of the landmass Germany does, domicile to nearly 23 million people (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007), bordering Togo, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Despite the many books written about Ghana, there is little psychologically relevant knowledge. A search in PsychInfo for the term “Ghana” in any field yields 553 hits (May 2007), 412 before the study started (September 2004), a majority of which is occupied with curio topics like “Sensory characteristics of fufu prepared with cassava roots (Manihot Esculenta Crantz) stored in polyethylene sacks” (Opare-Abisaw, Asante & Annan, 2004). The dearth of literature on the psychologically common in Ghana makes it necessary to search the next higher level of analysis in order to find a stable foundation on which to build hypotheses - Africa.
The second biggest continent on earth covers 30,3 million square kilometers, 22% of the earth’s total, three times more than Europe. It is inhabited by 848,65 million people, fractionalized into an immense amount of ethnic groups. Reportedly the cradle of Homo sapiens around 160 000 years ago. Economically one of today’s most struggling and problematic regions: 31 of the 40 poorest countries listed by the 2006 Human Development Report are part of Sub-Saharan Africa. The more developed, Muslim dominated northern part of the continent will be excluded from the further discussion – it has a different economic standing, culture, tradition, religion and language. In the following, Africa will stand for Sub-Saharan Africa only, which is consistent with anthropological (Murdock, 1981) and psychological (e.g. House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta, 2004) research. Having said that: Is it valid to draw conclusions about the state of affairs in Ghana from knowledge on Africa?
It might be comprehensible not to find a huge amount of helpful psychological articles, reporting on research devoted to diversity in the work context in Ghana. But the general lack of work and organizational studies, of psychological research reports in general, and so of interest in Sub-Saharan Africa, is astonishing. There are exceptions like the studies of Blunt (1980), Jackson (2004), Ugwuegbu (2001), Noorderhaven and Tidjani (2001), or Spangenberg and Theron (2002), who all mention their own surprise about only cursory attention to Africa. More often than not, this attention was of low quality and effort, which made it hard to find a theoretical framework, covering the peculiarities of the context.
In general the reviewed literature on Africa or single African countries showed important lack in:
Researchers univocally acknowledge the unsuitability of western instruments but still use them – because they lack alternatives. It is thus unclear if they miss important aspects of reality in Sub-Saharan Africa.
3. Psychological status quo.
There is an extensive literature on Africa, but only few psychological work. Most of the psychological studies are devoted to the odd rather than the common. Cross-cultural studies focus on value differences across countries. Little is known about the state of affairs within.
It is impossible to phrase the favorite dish of Europeans. That is because Europeans are quite different. The same is true for Germans. To find a traditionally anchored recipe, it is necessary to go down to the state level. The same applies to Africa, which still is treated as an entity.
Africa is in need of theories, proper instruments that capture relevant aspects of the reality of life from a native perspective; data based knowledge about the status quo and countrywise differentiation. It is surprising that even major cross-cultural studies did either more or less neglect Africa (Schwartz, 1994; Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998), only used convenience sampling of countries (House et al., 2004), accumulated country level data without theoretical justification (Hofstede, 1980; McCrae, 2005a,b) and did not address questions of diversity across and within the African countries properly (all). Africa’s nations often seem to be included in broad research projects for the sake of completeness or the claim of universality.
In his classical study on IBM employees, Hofstede (1980) considered Africa but
a) only white subjects in the South African sample and
b) assessed not enough data to consider single African countries but used aggregate scores for hypothetical West and East African regional clusters, which are quite diverse in itself (see p. 188.8.131.52).
There was not and still is little evidence supporting this procedure, which was only used for African and Arabian countries. As his work is a frequently used basis for other studies (e.g. McCrae et al., 2005; Smith, Peterson & Schwartz, 2002; Dia, 1996), this basic and possibly faulty assumption bears more and more unhealthy children that do not help to found psychological hypotheses on stable theoretical grounds in countries like Ghana.
In the biggest recent cross-cultural study on leadership House et al. (2004, p. 97) argue that they prefer the term “societal culture” to “country” or “nation” to recognize the “complexity of the cultural concept”. Sometimes they sampled two subcultures from one nation as “It was recognized that national boarders may not be an adequate way to demarcate cultural boundaries because many countries have large subcultures.” If this is true for European countries like Switzerland (French and German samples) or Germany (East and West samples), it should hold even more for African countries like Ghana, comprising 25 spoken languages around 100 different ethnical groups (Brown, 1983), some with patrilineal, some with matrilineal traditions. And it definitely applies to the entity House et al. subsequently referred to as Sub-Saharan Africa. Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) found language dependent cultural clusters, Noorderhaven and Tidjani (2001) a factor discriminating French from English questionnaire versions in Africa. Masculinity opposed to femininity is one of the four cultural differences originally found by Hofstede (1980). It seems plausible to assume that the variance in gender roles and language traditions should already make a difference within (Jackson, 2004), and lead to differences across African countries, as their set-ups differ to a large extent.
Moreover, biases are introduced through using western instruments, a procedure critically dubbed cultural imperialism or ethnocentrism (e.g. Poortinga & van Hemert, 2001; Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). It is not enough to prove that a measure is psychometrically equivalent and valid, it has to capture a part of reality that is of equal importance and related content. In their publication, reporting about the construction of a uniquely South African leadership questionnaire, Spangenberg and Theron (2002) state that the diversity of the South African managerial population would not be reflected by foreign questionnaires, that language and expressions used in foreign questionnaires would not always be clear to managers who are not first-language English-speaking South Africans, and that none of the current overseas questionnaires would fully satisfy the needs of leaders and managers in the South African context. These circumstances call for qualitative methods before conducting quantitative questionnaire studies that are possibly meaningless in the Sub-Saharan context. A qualitative approach would also be helpful in generating robust theories that ease hypothesizing instead of relying on popular or ethnologic literature.
An easy explanation for these methodological flaws is: Africa is economically underdeveloped, the region underwent a major backdrop in development due to the still prevalent AIDS epidemic, so the benefit from research exploring the differences across all African countries or even the development of unique country instruments would not justify costs and efforts. Even native researchers (e.g. Dia, 1996, Munuene et al., 2000) decide to go the easy path and draw common cross-cultural knowledge about ‘Africa’ to use in individual country analysis. The arguments for these procedures usually are a
- common history of colonization,
- similar level of underdevelopment and
- shared philosophy of human interdependence.
It should be noted that historical circumstances during colonial times differed markedly and led to different self-images and different post-colonial histories (Jackson, 2004). If not, countries like India, Australia, USA and Ghana should be similar as they all shared British colonial administration.
Although the world’s poorest and least developed countries can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a substantial gap within and across countries. Mauritius, Namibia, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, South Africa or Gabon all have a higher gross national income per capita (GNI) than India or China (World Development Report, 2006). Child mortality rates in Mauritius are below those of Mexico, Brazil or Turkey. Underdevelopment is not a uniting attribute of all African countries anymore. If considered the other way round, African similarity would fail to explain the differential pace of development.
A small volume of current research also suggests that there is a substantial difference in psychological constructs like values across (e.g. Noorderhaven & Tidjani, 2001) and within African countries (Jackson, 2002, 2004). It would not be very surprising, as no other region incorporates more ethnic, cultural and linguistic pluralism as well (Legum, Zartman, Langdon & Mytelka, 1979). Facts like these are mentioned in most literature on Africa, but more often than not the 42 countries forming Sub-Saharan Africa are treated as one entity – the ‘African perspective’.
The following section will critically examine results from empirical cross-cultural studies that incorporated African countries. Is it valid to assume that they share a substantial amount of variance, or more precisely: For the sake of parsimony, would it be sufficient to draw inferences about the Ghanaian context from knowledge of Africa as a higher order factor, as all countries have sufficient loadings on it?
There is some evidence for the assumption that Sub-Sahara African countries would form a cultural cluster on their own. The hierarchical cluster analysis of DNA markers in 42 countries conducted by Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi and Piazza (1994) found the first split separating African from non-African countries. The genetical distance of the two groups is larger than any other found, implying that in the most basic human variable, the genetic code, Africans resemble each other more than they do any other population in the world. He also found an immense genetical diversity across the considered African countries. In fact, no other region in the world has a higher genetical diversity (e.g. Vigilant, Stoneking, Harpending, Hawkes & Wilson, 1991). Thus, the evidence is split: Africans are similar and highly diverse at the same time.
Culture consists of more than genes as it includes tradition and shared history. Genetical analysis throws an interesting but not sufficient light on the validity-question of anAfricaconstruct. The following section will focus on psychological constructs like values, personality and philosophy.
illustration not visible in this excerpt
World Values Survey. The first psychological empirical evidence for an African cluster was found in the World Values Survey (e.g. 2007). Starting in 1990 this broad cross-cultural research project on values now finished the fourth round of data assessment, covering 84 countries. Inglehart and Welzel (2005) found two factors explaining 70% of cross-national variance of ten indicators of varied areas of human concern – from religion to politics, from economics to social life. The Traditional/ Secular-rational values dimension reflects the contrast between societies in which religion is very important and those in which it is not. A wide range of other orientations are closely linked with this dimension, e.g. the importance of parent-child ties, deference to authority, absolute standards and traditional family values.
The second dimension is linked with the polarization between Survival and Self-expression values. It reflects the shift from an emphasis on economic and physical security towards one on subjective well-being, self-expression and quality of life. Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, tolerance of diversity or generally towards outgroups, including foreigners, gays, lesbians and gender equality.
Figure 1 depicts the respective country’s score on the matrix made up by these two broad factors of cultural value orientation. Africa is indeed forming a cluster of its own, but only at face value. Note that Tanzania loads right in the proximity of Ghana. Hofstede (1980) reported substantial differences between West and East Africa. Egypt is situated right next to Ghana as well, a fact that would not be expected by other researchers, who separate the Arabic north and the Sub-Saharan south of Africa (e.g. House et al., 2004). The same line of reasoning applies to the location of Morocco, right in the vicinity of Zimbabwe. The distinctness of many countries situated in the South Asian or Latin American clusters would probably not withstand statistical examination. The separation taking place here seems much more to divide the world into North and South.
Acquiescence.Another puzzling detail concerning African data should be mentioned. The World Values Survey incorporates a range of questions, asking for the importance in life of family, work, friends, leisure, religion and politics. Nigeria is ranking highest in saying that work, family, leisure and religion would be very important (Inglehart, Basañez & Moreno, 2000). A similar pattern is found in work related values. Asking about job characteristics, Nigerians rank highest in appreciating good pay, job security, opportunity to use initiative, feel to achieve something, responsibility and an interesting job, they are second in appreciating not too much pressure, a job respected by people, good hours, a useful job for society, meeting people, a job that meets abilities. They are third in valuing generous holidays. Apparently this nation has high demands and values. They are ranked 159th out of 177 nations on the Human Development Index (Human Development Report, 2006). Still, Inglehart et al. (2000) found Nigerians to have the highest life satisfaction. If he had asked, maybe Nigerians would also be the discontentest people. Without sarcasm: maybe population means are not comparable.
In a review of cross-cultural differences in personality, Poortinga, van de Vijver and van Hemert (2002) concluded that “the validity of such claims [of real differences in mean levels] has to remain tentative” (p. 298) and encouraged research on alternative explanations for apparent group differences, such as response biases like acquiescence. In a meta-analysis of numerous studies with the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) van Hemert, van de Vijver and Poortinga (2000) found a correlation of -.67 across countries between the EPQ lie-scale and gross national product (GNP), suggesting that in African countries, most of which have a relatively low GNP, the tendency for socially desirable responses might be widespread. Smith et al. (2002) noted that in hierarchical cultures subjects would generally respond in a more acquiescent manner; most African countries would fall under this category. It might well be that Africans form mean score clusters in cross-cultural research that merely reflect the respective countries low GNP, leading to a certain response style. Mean score differences across countries would then at least to some extent be based on method or response bias (van de Vijver & Leung, 2001; Grimm & Church, 1999).
Lessons from McCrae.More evidence for a mean score or psychometrically problematic African cluster comes from a recent cross-cultural comparison of personality traits by McCrae et al. (2005b). They asked 12,156 subjects from 51 countries to rate a person they know well on the NEO-PI-R(Costa & McCrae, 1992). The considered Sub-Saharan African countries were Nigeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso and Uganda; Morocco and Ethiopia were also included.
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The country scores were used in a multidimensional scaling procedure, the result is shown in Figure 2. The axes reflect personality composites of the Five Factor Model of personality (FFM, e.g. Costa & McCrae, 1992), with the vertical axis positively related to N and negatively to C, while the horizontal axis is positively related to E and - with less magnitude - to O. Sub-Saharan African countries find themselves in the blue circled area in the proximity of North African, Arabian and Asian countries, including Russia.
All African countries showed relatively low variance and low levels in data quality indices. All but Burkina Faso had low to very low internal consistencies for O (for a further discussion of that construct see chapter 1.2.6), in Nigeria acceptable results were only found for E and C. Botswana was the only country in the sample where the FFM could not be replicated at all. Furthermore, it remains unclear why African countries should have lower mean scores on E than Germans.
In a previous article using the same set of data but conducting analysis within countries, McCrae et al. (2005a) reported that they could basically replicate the FFM in all countries, with major restrictions only for Sub-Saharan Africa:“Particularly striking are the low congruences in Botswana and Nigeria. The three other Black African cultures—Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Uganda—had clearer replications, but not so clear as those found in most European cultures” (p.553).
Their favored explanation is low data quality and high random error or response bias, suggesting that the countries in and proximate to the blue circle in Figure 2 form a cluster of low data quality or a zone of psychometrical uncertainty for western questionnaires. They considered an alternative argument that was found frequently during the literature review for the present study:
“[African countries] share certain features, such as close bonds within the family and a traumatic history of European colonialism, that might lead to a common personality structure. We therefore considered the possibility that there is some distinctive African personality structure that differs appreciably from the FFM found elsewhere in the world.” (p. 553).
The GLOBE study.In the most recent multi-method cross-cultural research project on leadership, the GLOBE study, House et al. (2004) grouped 62 nations into 10 regional clusters (see Figure 3). Later analysis was solely conducted on this aggregate level. The researchers provided theoretical arguments, justifying the respective groupings.
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For Sub-Saharan Africa they used a rationale similar to the second provided by McCrae et al. above. In the main book covering the research results, Gupta and Hanges (2004, p.187) argue first that “Sub-Saharan societies did not experience the kind of homogenization northern African societies experienced […] there is a vast diversity in ethnicity, religion, language and customs” and one break later that “a distinct philosophical concept in the Sub-Saharan Africa cluster is Ubuntu”. The notion of Ubuntu is all their argument for hypothesizing a distinct Sub-Saharan cluster. This exotic (and apparently scientifically erotic) concept will be explained in more detail later (p. 11). For now it is important that Gupta and Hanges postulated a unique philosophical concept uniting all African countries south of the Sahara.
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They then tried to validate their partitioning through discriminant analysis. They divided each country sample into two parts, using one for extracting the discriminant function and the other for cross validation. This function classified 75% of countries correctly into eight of the ten regional clusters. Countries hypothetically belonging to the two remaining clusters were classified correctly with an approximate rate of only 50%. These two clusters were Germanic Europe that overlapped with Nordic Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa, overlapping to a smaller degree with the Middle East cluster. Even if the Sub-Saharan Africa cluster had been combined with the Middle East cluster, African countries south of the Sahara would have shown the lowest rate of correct classification worldwide. Again this fact can be interpreted as problematic data or real differences across these African countries, but not in favor of the ‘Africa’ construct.
The African bias. In their attempt to find unique African values overlooked by ethnocentric “western” researchers so far, Noorderhaven and Tidjani (2001, see also p. 25) used a qualitative Delphi method for assessing African values, and constructed a questionnaire based on them. Interviewees were Africans living in Africa or studying in Europe, Tidjani’s home country is Senegal. The questionnaire deliberately incorporated an African bias. Bond et al. (Chinese Culture Connection, 1987) expanded the original four dimensions of cross-cultural differences found by Hofstede’s classical study of IBM employees (1980) with a fifth factor - Confucianism- through the introduction of a Chinese bias in a similar fashion. No comparable surprises were gained in Africa. Although the extracted factors were named quite differently, they were all substantially correlated to the four dimensions found by Hofstede and Bond’s Confucianism (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005), or reflected mere method artifacts. The authors also stated a substantial variance across the considered African countries.
Confucianism - long-term orientation in Hofstede’s terminology – correlated strongly negatively with the traditional wisdom factor proposed by Noorderhaven and Tidjani. This factor separated East Asian countries from African and some European ones (Noorderhaven & Tidjani, 2001; Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). But in the GLOBE study, South Africa was ranked 3rd, Nigeria 19th, Namibia 46th on future orientation (which is not equivalent but correlated to long-term orientation). It is questionable whether mean scores across countries are comparable at all (Poortinga et al., 2002; Poortinga & van Hemert, 2001), as different countries might have unique reference groups for self-assessment. However, if two countries are similar, they should have similar reference groups, and similar psychological processes, linking similar environments to similar outcomes, all reflected in similar mean scores.
The variance across the Sub-Saharan part of the African continent appears to be substantial, and a unique “African” characteristic is still to be found in the data. Moreover the quality of data derived from African countries incorporated in the above studies remains questionable. Treating Africa as an entity does not have a stable empirical foundation, it even seems to be a faulty assumption; and so the application of the same theories, instruments and arguments in research on the single countries constituting it. To intensify the problem, many native African researchers are not very helpful in throwing light on the blind spot of psychological research. Being experts of their context, they still insist on unique African attributes like ‘human interdependence’ or ‘Ubuntu’ that would be covered by the aftermath of colonial influence.
Ubuntu – uniting Africa’s nations?
“Africans have this thing called Ubuntu. It is about the essence of being human, it is part of the gift that Africa will give the world. It embraces hospitality, caring about others, being able to go the extra mile for the sake of others. We believe that a person is a person through another person, that my humanity is caught up, bound up, inextricably, with yours.” (Desmond Tutu (1999), Archbishop of Cape Town South Africa)
The concept of Ubuntu is derived from South Africa, the word itself is Zulu language. Horwitz, Kamoche and Chew (2002) note that it would not be widespread in parts of modern Africa, Jackson (2004) that it might not have stretched north the South African boundaries. Gupta and Hanges (2004) seem to succumb to the cultural romanticism fallacy. Ubuntu, which they found in popular South African management literature (Mbigi & Maree, 1995), sounds as foreign as Africa might be to the western researcher’s mind, and so appears like a good substitute for an appropriate description of the respective region. The concept is dazzling enough to hide the reluctance to comply with scientific standards in treating the subject under study. As Gupta and Hanges are not alone in hypothesizing a uniting motivational and philosophical force within Sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. Jackson, 2004; Munuene et al., 2000; Ugwuegbu, 2001), it might be worth to have a closer look at the concept.
The Zulu-English dictionary (www.isizulu.net) offers the following translations for “Ubuntu”: “humaneness; humanity; human nature; human race; civic spirit; public spirit; sense of solidarity character; one's real self”. The following definition sums up its most important aspects.
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In the introduction to his book “The psychology of management in Africa”, Ugwuegbu (2001: p. 1) uses a similar rationale for treating Africa as an entity:
“The focus [of this book] is organizational management practices in these countries. In this particular respect, all African countries are similar. They all practice a borrowed colonial management system. They are all experiencing varying degrees of dependence and shortage of professional, managerial, and technical expertise necessary for development. […] Finally, African people, irrespective of where they reside in the continent, are in the African philosophy of human interdependence. This philosophical orientation influences African workers’ behavior in informal and formal organizations and in interaction with each other.”
The philosophy of human interdependence or Ubuntu might actually exist in Africa. Hofstede (1980) found a correlation of -.82 between GNP and collectivism. Collectivist countries tend to support members of their in-group more (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). The Sub-Saharan countries nearly all have a low GNP. As in any country, wealth is not proportioned equally. It is not doubted that “Ubuntu”, sharing and need-oriented distribution, might have been and still is a normative guiding motivational force of behavior in traditional rural communities. But the relevance for subjects making up the student or higher working class samples in the studies of McCrae et al. (2005a; 2005b), Inglehart et al. (2000), Hofstede (1980) or House et al. (2004) is at least doubtful. It seems valid to assume that higher social status is associated with lower need for and motivational force from Ubuntu (e.g. Poortinga & van Hemert, 2001). Jackson (2002: p. 1012) puts it like this: “people in African countries who are socially disadvantaged may be more prone to have a humanistic view of human worth, and those in socially advantaged position may have a less humanistic locus”.
Personal experience in Ghana confirms this assumption. Individuals with higher social status live in houses surrounded by high fences, have their own security guards and do not treat members of lower social status groups with respect, humanness or hospitality. Friendships outside the extended family often seemed to be based on possible monetary profit.
There is another explanation for the persistent survival of this uniquely African value catalogue in the literature. Nkomo (2006: p. 4) notes “tensions between stereotypical colonial images of ‘African leadership and management’ and proposed counter-images that often reflect the excess of cultural relativism. One of the challenges of posing alternative views is the danger of romanticizing the ‘Other’ and the uncritical acceptance of these new perspectives”.
A nice example for this cultural romanticism is given by Edoho (2001), who opposes African against Western values. The comparison in Table 1 is not based on data or existing studies. All attributes in Table 1 printed in italics are associated with the notion of Ubuntu or the philosophy of human interdependence. They indicate that humanness or virtues of interpersonal behavior would be on the African side while intelligence, detached from environment and other people, and interpersonal exploitation would be on the western side.
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Table 1: African vs. western values (Edoho, 2001)
When ‘western’ researchers talk about ‘Africa’ instead of individual countries, they might do so due to lack of interest, knowledge or capacity. When Africans stress the uniqueness of some continental specialties like Ubuntu, they seem to argue on a base of inferiority against the former suppressors – the Europeans. They engage in what Chattopadhyay et al. (2004) call social creativity (see chapter 1.2.4). To maintain high self-esteem in a social comparison process (e.g. “Africa” vs. “West”) new dimensions are invented in a way that make favorable comparisons possible or the values assigned to the in-group are changed. This leads to a spurious romanticized picture that contradicts recent historical events and is all but helpful in meeting today’s challenges of Sub-Saharan development.
An argument against the mere existence of what is called Ubuntu are the frequent conflicts within and across African countries, often fought on kinship, tribal, ethnic, interest or religious lines. A sad example is the Rwandan genocide 1994, killing between 500 000 to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This conflict at least supported or resulted in further conflicts in neighboring countries like Burundi or Zambia (present day Congo), which were fought on ethnic, national and economic interest lines, killing around four million people. Instead of adhering to the Ubuntu principle, participants sought for revenge, power and money. Even in the birthplace of Ubuntu, the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, where it is claimed to be part of every day life, violent ethnic and political clashes still occur frequently (Louw, 1997). Some authors argue that ethnicity is exploited to create artificial gaps and to ensure idealized commitment in the quest for material benefits (e.g. Leonard, 1999). Military clashes are fuelled with money from Europe, the US, Russia or China to support their interests in the rich natural resources of the respective regions, so conflicts can partly be explained by outer intervention indeed (Louw, 1997). Some authors actually go so far to claim “that Africans lived in harmony with the different ethnic groups bordering one another until the advent of colonialism” (Nyambegera, 2002: p. 1079). Influence of foreign powers played a major role in African history. But it is a romantic transfiguration that Africa, if left alone, would be a conglomerate of peace and harmony – Ubuntu. And even if, more than 500 years of complex recent history involving imperialism, colonization and inner African conflicts already shaped social realities that guide behaviors and cognitions (e.g. Jackson, 2004). The prevalent question is not about the culprit, but about solutions.
More realistic descriptions of the state within African countries suggest a different picture (Blunt & Jones, 1992; Jackson, 2004; Ugwuegbu, 2001). It seems plausible to assume that in-group favoritism based on kinship and ethnicity has been the organizing principle of African societies and politics before, as well as after, independence (Nugent, 1999; Jackson, 2004; Brown, 1983). For example, before European powers arrived on the Gold Coastthere already were centralized state-like societies on the territory of today’s Ghana, and there already was fighting for resources and power between different ethnic groupings (Gockins, 2005). After independence, political leaders tended to manipulate ethnicity in order to establish control over the population (Adar, 1998), as was seen in the Ghanaian election campaigns since the most recent advent of democratic change 1992 (Nugent, 1999) and before (Brown, 1983).
Most conflicts in Africa exploit readily detectible (e.g. ethnic or religious) attributes to construe meaning and ensure commitment. Ethnic tensions might have been fuelled by the forceful merging of diverse clans or bigger ethnical bodies under a territorial heading called nation by the colonial powers, sometimes cutting right through ethnic boundaries (Nyambegera, 2002; Little, 1998; Jackson, 2004). Colonial divide-and-rule policies, i.e. favoritism towards particular ethnic groups, who were privileged in terms of education and employment, led to the anchoring of positive or negative attributes associated with certain ethnic groupings and to the uneven distribution of power (Leys, 1975). This tactic was particularly prevalent in British colonies. It ensured commitment and loyalty of the favored, fuelled conflicts between different ethnic groups, and so prevented earlier uprisings. Democratic openings have intensified ethnic competition in the quest for power and resources (Ndegwa, 1997). Post independence state and class formation led to the development of ethno-political identities, making some ethnic groups feel superior as they again were allowed to enjoy particular privileges such as employment, which is documented for Sierra Leone (Kandeh, 1992) and Nigeria (Obi, 2001). Nnadozie (2001) argues that in Africa the nature of collectivism may lead to nepotism, ethnocentrism and "kporapkoism" (preferential treatment for one's own kind). Most leaders in African organizations achieve their position through political patronage, ethnic or religious dominance, or influence (Ugwuegbu, 2001). High-level corruption, embezzlement and the granting of favors, all in-group oriented, have created a wealthy elite in most African countries, and so monetary and power differences between ethnic groups (Harsch, 1993). These processes are aggravated by cultural norms regarding interpersonal relationships. Very strong norms apply to relationships with kinsmen, affined relatives and chiefs, to a lesser extent to strangers from the same ethnic group and nearly no norms to strangers from other ethnic groups (Blunt, 1980a).
Instead of harmonious coexistence there seems to be favoritism within, and rivalry or even open conflict between social groups. It remains unclear whether these conflicts are fuelled from outside the countries or are inherent in their societal structures. The present study aims at illuminating this question: It draws samples from a modern working sector, banks, in a rather peaceful country, Ghana, to explore the impact of the combination of the social categories age, sex and ethnic origin and the personality factor openness to experience on dyadic relationships and group outcomes. The work context was chosen, as being part of a certain workgroup is rather a function of assignment than of voluntary choice. Even more when the work is result-focused and employees are more likely chosen according to their skills and abilities – both applies to banks. If subjects with different backgrounds and identities are brought together in a context of cooperation without enforced conflict, will the aforementioned categories have an impact on individual attitudes, interpersonal relations and group processes?
The work context.Jackson (2002, p. 998) sums up the current literature’s prevalent conception of management in African organizations:“fatalistic, resistant to change, reactive, short-termist, authoritarian, risk reducing, context dependent and basing decisions on relationship criteria, rather than universalistic criteria”.He argues that management in Africa would be cross-cultural by nature, as any African country would incorporate different ethnic bodies, speak different languages and adhere to different traditions and customs. Ethnicity and gender would likely play a role in work relations, but these issues would have been treated inadequately in the literature so far, “Yet an understanding of inter-ethnic interaction is crucial to effective management in organizations in Africa, particular in managing conflict” (pp. 1012-1013). Ethnic origin is seen as the primary source of diversity in the work context, but the effects of diversity in any dimension on employment relations in African countries are not well documented (Nyambegera, 2002; Obi, 2001). Nzelibe (1986) points out that those in senior positions of an organization are always under pressure to provide jobs or support in acquiring jobs for their families, while family is a very large body, not only referring to first-grade relatives but rather to "kith and kin" (McCarthy, 1994). Blunt and Jones (1997) also note the importance of kinship networks in the workplace. They would result in ethnic majorities within organizational workgroups (q.v. Grillo, 1973, Kamoche, 1992) or even homogenous organizations (e.g. Blunt, 1980a,b). While in-group favoritism or patronage in hiring decisions seems to be a fairly well acknowledged fact in organizations throughout Africa (e.g. Ugwuegbu, 2001), there is a dearth of relevant empirical evidence on the effects of heterogeneity on group processes or work outcomes outside South Africa (Jackson, 2004).
After independence most African countries did not have a diversified organizational sector. The economies were basically built upon agriculture or extraction of natural resources. Larger organizational bodies were only present in the public sector (Blunt, 1980a; Ugwuegbu, 2001). Today, African countries like Mauritius, Namibia, Gabon, Cape Verde, Botswana, Mauritius, caught up with the mainstream development pace of the world, and countries like Ghana are starting to chase them (World Development Report, 2006). This development leads to the formation of larger organizations that can not be staffed only with one’s own kin, and should be staffed by the most competent personnel on the labor market.
Preceding large-scale private sector organizations are banks, which invest in and facilitate economic growth, e.g. through credits. They usually have countrywide networks and suggestively are a good starting point for gathering empirical evidence to forecast diversity effects in the larger organizations to emerge in a constantly developing African country. The banking system in Ghana was partly state controlled, but even the largest native bank, the Ghana Commercial Bank, is now listed on the stock exchange. There are foreign banks as well, e.g. Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, both rooted in Great Britain, or the SG-SSB with headquarters in France. As human resource practices in banks usually rely on aptitude tests that comply with western standards (Ugwuegbu, 2001), the possibility to preselect on the basis of e.g. ethnical ties is minimized, though not eliminated. As a result, the workforce in these modern sectors is homogenous concerning education, but not ethnically or gender-wise. It is held that “most conflicts in Africa result from intolerance of other ethnic and religious groups, and bias against women” (Ugwuegbu, 2001, p. 41). These processes are likely to influence exchange resources allocated by supervisor or group dynamics in a similar fashion as in western societies. Supervisors might still prefer their own kith and kin in supporting their careers or granting them more exchange resources like respect. Studies in Nigeria show that subordinates judge leaders from minority ethnic groups by their perceived stereotypic beliefs about the leaders’ groups rather than on the leaders’ actual performance (Ugwuegbu, 1983). Also, group processes might be influenced by diversity, as already suggested by Blunt (1980). Ugwuegbu (1983) showed that Nigerian employees preferred to work under managers and supervisors from their own part of the country. Still, to cite Jackson (2002, p.1001), “Inter-ethnic cultural analysis has remained largely within the domain of social/cultural anthropology, and has been rarely investigated or applied to management and organization theory”.
Summary.It was shown that psychologically relevant research and literature on Sub-Saharan Africa and its constituting countries apart from South Africa is sparse and faulty. It lacks theories, instruments and differentiation appropriate for the immense on-site diversity. Questionnaire data seems to be difficult to interpret, due to low data quality, acquiescence bias and subjects’ comprehensibility problems. Instead of empirically validated regional constructs, Western and African researchers use romanticized philosophical ideas like Ubuntu as guiding arguments for hypotheses and result interpretation. It seems not valid to draw conclusions from present knowledge on a spuriously postulated ‘Africa’ construct for research in Ghana.
Recent political developments and some current research suggests that the Sub-Saharan African countries developed unique post-colonial societal dynamics, supporting the importance of social categories in decision making processes, also affecting the work sector. None of the studies presented so far included Ghanaian subjects in their samples. The following section will present studies that did so, and give an overview of the regional specialties, concerning history, ethnical composition, gender dynamics and management.
Table 2: A brief history of Ghana (based on Gockins, 2005).
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Harrison, Price and Bell’s (1998) division of human attributes into surface- and deep-level characteristics can also be applied to describe the context of the present study: Ghana. The surface-level would be its history and common make-up, reflected in data like the gross national product (GNP), facts like English being the official language, or written down in books like “The History of Ghana” (Gockins, 2005). Deep-level attributes of a cultural context would then be shared values, beliefs, traditions or culture specific behaviors. The first place to seek clues for understanding effects based on a given cultural context is its history. Table 2 presents some important dates in Ghanaian history. They can be helpful in understanding cultural specialties in lack of empirical psychological evidence. Other surface-level facts of today’s Ghana might further boost understanding and will be laid out next: ethnical composition, religion, economic situation and gender issues.
Ethnical composition.The frontiers of the former Gold Coast were hastily drawn, several of the important ethnic bodies inhabiting present day Ghana stretch into adjoining territories – the Gyaman mostly live in Ivory Coast, the Ewe and Dagomba primarily in Togo, the Moshi predominantly dwell north of the frontier to Burkina Faso (Ward, 1969; Gocking, 2005). It is difficult to describe the ethnical set-up of Ghana today, as there is no direct answer to how many tribes or ethnic groupings live on its territory - it depends on definition. In the present study the 200 subjects mentioned 20 different ethnic origins, some authors assume around 100 (Brown, 1983). On the ethnolinguistic fractionalization index, a measure for the probability that two randomly selected individuals in a country will not belong to the same ethnolinguistic group, Ghana ranks 34th of 150 countries (Annett, 2001), indicating a high level of ethnolinguistic diversity within the country. It is not intended to provide an all-embracing analysis of the actual ethnic composition of the country but rather to show that there is a broad range of intra-national variance of traditions, histories and values, supporting Jackson’s (2002) notion that management in Africa would have to be cross-cultural management.
There are six major differences across ethnic groups: history, language, traditions, religions, location and size. These differences are interrelated. For example a northern location implies certain traditions, as these regions are not very fertile, only allowing for millet cultivation once a year, while the coastal regions are good for growing anything from cassava to strawberries all year round. The dominant western classification system of ethnic groups is mostly based on language and leads to oversimplified assumptions. According to this system, the Akans are said to be the largest ethnical body in Ghana, making up 44% of its population. "Akan" is an ethnographic linguistic term defined as the group of Kwa languages that are spoken in Ghana and Ivory Coast. They split up again into Twi (which is divided into Asante Twi and Akuapim Twi) and Fante (the language of the former 7th UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan). They also share the Christian faith and matrilineal traditions, whereas all other ethnic entities on Ghanaian ground obey to a patrilineal lineage system. Although they appear to have much in common, they can be meaningfully subdivided into 11 subgroups, the largest of which are the Asante, the Fante, the Akyem, the Akwamu and the Nzimas.
It would be spurious to consider the Akans a homogenous entity. In the 17th century the region saw the emergence of a strong regional power, the Asante, after they rose up against the former reigning power – the Denkyera. The set-up of this kingdom-like entity was a confederate one: other tribes were beaten on the battlefield and integrated within the superordinate governmental body ‘Asante Confederacy’, leaving each with their own traditional hierarchy but forcing them to forget their own history (Ward, 1969). Other tribes, especially in the north, were attacked and captured members sold to the Fante or Ga-Adangbe, who were aligned with the respective European traders that protected themselves in Forts on the coast. Later on, these ethnic divides served as a basis for alliance with rivaling European powers: the British fought together with the Fante against the Asante and the Dutch, leading to further social separation between these two Akan tribes (Göhring, 1980). Lentz (2000: p.8) notes, “the Fanti are continued to be seen as ‚cowardly’ and ‚untrustworthy’ in comparison with the more ‘honorable’ Ashanti“.
This divide is also reflected in voting behavior (Nugent, 1999). The results from the 2004 election show a clear support along ethnical lines: The Asante voted for Kuffour (74,61%), an Ashanti, the Ewe for Mills (83,83%), an Ewe. The three northern regions supported Mills (Ghana Government, 2007). This might be interpreted in historical ways, as people from northern regions especially had to suffer from Asante imperialism. Nugent (1999) drew maps of election behavior in Ghana. He found the separation line not between linguistic but historical boundaries. Ghanaians were split into center and periphery, the center made up by the Asante region. The majority of the Fante voted against the Ashanti candidate Kuffour. It seems plausible to assume that ethnical lines, if constructed, imported, superimposed or not, guide behavior. These dividing lines seem not to comply with western classification systems. In the following, other ethnical bodies are described in line with common and so mostly western ideas of categorization, to convey a feeling for the country’s set-up, knowing that there is no one-dimensional reality.
The Mole-Dagbani, sometimes called Moshi-Dagomba, make up the second largest ethnical group, comprising 16% of the population. They can again be subdivided into smaller groups like the Nanumba, Frafra or Talensi. All belong to the linguistic group of the Gur, one of the two major language groups of the savanna region of West Africa. Their primary location is the northern part of Ghana. This region is the most diverse in the country, with very small tribal bodies, building a diverse range of small villages with different traditions, customs and totems. 1994 it became the scene of an exceptional tribal clash over a chieftaincy succession between the Konkomba on one side and Nanumba, Dagomba, and Gonja on the other, leaving 1000 dead and 150 000 displaced. The northern part of Ghana is the most underdeveloped, which is mostly due to the lack of water, natural resources and infrastructure. It is the only part in Ghana where the predominant religious belief is Islam and animist (Brown, 1983). ‘Northerners’ were preferentially drafted for military and police services by the British colonial government as they were reckoned to be most loyal (Lentz, 2000). This practice was pursued by the Nkrumah regime after independence.
Post-independence saw the integration of a new ethnic body in the territory of the newborn nation. The Ewe of the British share of former German Togoland favored joining Ghana in a public referendum 1956. Today they constitute the third largest share of the population (13%). Together with other Ewe, mostly living in Togo, they constitute a linguistic entity of their own, which might be the reason why some regret having joined Ghana and not having waited to create a nation together with their ethnic kin in today’s Togo. Their patrilineal traditions have partly changed under the influence of the neighboring Akan. As they live close to the coast there was little chance of avoiding christianization by European missionaries. Lentz (2000: p. 14) notes that it would be “the modern perception that the Ewe and the Ashanti have always been at odds”. This was reflected in political rivalry for power after the most recent democratic opening 1992: Rawlings, the former president and an Ewe, against Kuffour, today’s president and Ashanti (Nugent, 1999).
The smallest (8%) of the four larger ethnic entities are the Ga and Dangme people. They mostly live in and around the country’s capital Accra, have patrilineal traditions and a history of christianization. The remaining 19% are distributed over several smaller ethnic groupings. For a pointed view of differences across these ethnic groups see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/tribes.
In a study on ethnical tensions in Ghana and Togo, Brown (1983) identified negative stereotypes held by the Mole-Dagbani in the north about all ‘southerners’, mostly based on socio-economic disparities, tensions within the Akans similar to the logic described above, and conflicts between Ewe and Akans. He spoke of ‘Ewe tribalism’ denoting mistrust of this group in the Akan dominated governments, based on boarder conflicts with Togo under Nkrumah, where the dominating ethnic group is Ewe as well. The Akans would have retaliated with negative stereotypes about Ewes as being a threat to unity and stability. He argued that these ethnic lines have been exploited and solidified by politics, defining the respective opposition in ethnic terms, so ensuring commitment of own followers, and arousing suspicions about ‘ethnic plots’.
Obviously, Ghana is an ethnically diverse country. There is more than one answer to questions about the amount of different ethnic bodies, to their constituents and so the dividing lines within the country. Still, current research suggests ethnical lines to guide behavior, e.g. reflected in the last elections. Recent political developments seem to have fostered ethnical identities, and it seems plausible that they affect interpersonal relations, group processes and individual attitudes.
Religion.In short, 63% of the Ghanaians are Christians, 15-25% Catholic, around 25% Protestant and up to 22% adherents of free churches. 16% of the total population is believed to have Muslim confession, most of whom can be found in the north. 21% are thought as professing indigenous religious beliefs (Gockins, 2005). This seems to be an underestimate, as indigenous beliefs seem to coexist in perfect harmony with imported belief systems. Unfortunately, not enough subjects of Muslim belief were included in the present study, plausibly because they mostly live in the underdeveloped northern part of the country, and so are less likely to have access to university education, only obtainable in the south. Religion is not considered in more detail, although it appears to be another major source of diversity and conflict in African countries (Ugwuegbu, 2001).
Economic situation.Ghana is one of the better-off countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which might be partly attributable on the relatively low HIV rate of 2.3% (Human Development Report, 2006). It has the fourth highest mean life expectancy (59.12 years). Since 1984 it has a stable economic growth, 5.9 % in 2005, nearly 50% of urbanization, and a wealthy elite, using the newly paved roads to take their big cars for a cruise. Still Ghana remains heavily dependent on foreign aid, the average monthly income ranges around 170 $. 37% of the GNP is accounted for by subsistence agriculture, employing 60% of the workforce (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007), 25% are contributed by the industrial, 38% by the service sector. Gold, timber, and cocoa production are major sources of foreign exchange. The Ghanaian economy is in the process of transition. The banking sector provides one of the seldom opportunities to work in a more modern sector, in a company adopting globally common organizational structures, preceding future large scale development. To know how employees’ characteristics interact with each other in the banking system might equal knowing the future of the country’s working sector.
Gender issues. While most of the African societies are male dominated (e.g. Nnadozie 2001), the situation in Ghana is different, supposedly due to the matrilineal traditions of the Akan tribes. Still, all the tribal chiefs are male and only one of 25 branch managers visited for the present study was female. The employment rate of women is nearly as high as for men (World Development Report, 2006), but there is well defined role sharing in rural communities: women sell the goods male produce on the market. Anecdote has it that the local fishermen of the Ghanaian capital Accra first try to sell a small amount of their haunted fish at a harbor before returning home, so they have some money on their own. However, more than 90% of women in Ghana are either self-employed or unpaid farm labor; within the public sector, only 25% of the employees are women and the top jobs are predominantly held by males (Amos-Wilson, 1999). Women occupy only 9% of the seats in parliament. In general, women traditionally assume the inferior or weaker spousal role in marriage and family life (Debrah, 2002). In rural areas, girls are generally not given much encouragement for education. So, even if women are not discriminated to the same extent as in other developing countries, they might still form a minority group in the modern workplace.
This is supported by a qualitative analysis of semi-standardized interviews of female senior managers in the civil service sector by Amos-Wilson (1999). The interviewed women frequently stressed that they would have to work harder than men, experience more family-work conflict and have to behave in a more careful manner than men in order to appear respectful. The interviewees centered their responses around gender stereotypes like “Women do not make good managers because they are too soft.”, “Women are more thorough than men.”, “Women are very emotional.” or “They find it strange—a woman in the forefront of things.” (all p. 222).
In a study by Akuamoah-Boateng et al. (2003) male Ghanaian subjects predicted encouragement from males towards male and female achievers but discouragement from females towards female achievers, while female respondents predicted more discouragement generally, which might reflect their actual perceived discouragement.
These studies suggest that there might be even more gender-based stereotyping as in western countries like the UK or Germany. It might thus be plausible that male followers working under female leaders would be less committed to and satisfied with their work, and that workgroups comprising a high percentage of female co-workers will show more group conflicts.
While describing the surface-level attributes of Ghana is quite easy, as there is a wide range of official sources providing data and quite a variety of books devoted to this country, it gets more difficult when it comes to deep-level characteristics, the core of psychology. Little is known about the structure and importance of values or attitudes, their associations with and impacts on behavioral outcomes.
As shown above, Africa seems to be too diverse to qualify valid inferences from broad ‘African perspectives’. Furthermore, African data in cross-cultural studies is either based on small convenience samples or has low quality. It remains unclear weather mean score differences across countries reflect real differences between these countries or merely response bias, acquiescence tendency or different intra-national referents. The latter would imply that mean score differences do reflect differences across cultures, but it is not possible to interpret them unambiguously. For example, what does it mean that African countries show lower trait means related to extraversion compared to Germany (see above)? That Germans dance on the streets, approach strangers for a chat and are generally sociable? The dearth of Ghanaian country level knowledge makes it necessary to again refer to cross-cultural studies that incorporated Ghana.
Cross-cultural studies.The classic cross-cultural study in the work context was conducted by Hofstede (1980) in IBM offices. Meanwhile an impressive amount of data is available for 74 countries (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005). Although Ghana was included, data points were so sparse that Hofstede had to merge countries into the composites East (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia) and West (Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone) Africa. This procedure is more than doubtful.
Nigeria and Ghana have long been at odds. Being a relatively peaceful country with a low delinquency rate, crime in Ghana is often attributed to Nigerians, especially if weapons are involved. The Nigerian society is indeed much more violent than the Ghanaian, primarily because of much fighting about shares in the rich oil resources of the country.
Sierra Leone was dragged into the Liberian civil war recently. And it anyway is struggling hard – it has the lowest worldwide gross national income per capita, the highest child mortality rate and was ranked as the second least developed country of the world (Human Development Report, 2006), Nigeria ranks 159th of 177. Ghana is 136th, and so is not even counted among the least and low developed countries.
The South African data was gathered from a purely white population of employees.
Still, Hofstede’s framework is often used, especially to argue that a country would be collectivistic or high in power distance (e.g. Schaubroeck & Lam, 2002; Pelled & Xin, 2000; Farh, Tsui, Xin & Cheng, 1998). According to the Hofstede results (1984) ‘West Africa’ is a region that can be described with high power distance, high collectivism, medium masculinity and medium uncertainty avoidance. The Chinese Culture Connection (1987) included two African countries in their study, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Nigeria was also included by Hofstede (1980), and showed the third lowest score in Confucianism or long-term orientation.
Noorderhaven and Tidjani (2001) had a closer empirical look at African values, similar to the Chinese Values Survey (Chinese Culture Connection, 1987), using a qualitative Delphi method with only African subjects, some studying in European countries, for item creation first. They standardized all items country-wise, so each country’s item scores reflect the structure of importance rather than mere mean scores. Still the study has flaccidities, e.g. small convenience samples (87 students in Ghana, 28 in Belgium, only white South Africans), somewhat arbitrary factor creation, or small samples within countries. The chosen countries for the quantitative follow-up study came from different continents and could be meaningfully divided into two groups, based on GNP.
The strongest of the six emerging factors in the African Values Survey was split into three, justified by differential correlations with Hofstede’s (1980) individualism and power distance factors. As Tidjani is Senegalese, the factor naming might reflect an afrocentric bias, as opposed to the western (e.g. Hofstede, 1980) or Chinese (Chinese Culture Connection, 1987) biases in previous studies.
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Table 3: Ghana scores in the African Values survey
The resulting framework is presented in Table 3, including scores for Ghana and the mean across all countries. First, note that although there are considerable score differences across the African countries, the factor structure across these countries, reflecting the preference of some value constructs over others, is quite similar. These values seem to form a heterogeneous cluster, separated from the more developed countries. This might not be surprising, given the correlation of many factors with Hofstede’s power distance and individualism and the association of these with GNP (see p. 12).
The interpretation of contents has some striking implications. As shown above, many authors readily assume that a central African philosophy is that of human interdependence or Ubuntu. Yet the African countries have the lowest score on the ‘Human Goodness’ dimension, Ghana scores highest among them but still marginally below average, the UK scores highest overall. It has to be considered that this factor is definitely narrower than the Ubuntu concept, and mainly focused on work related values, but also incorporates the item “in general people can be trusted”. The authors argue that this would actually reflect the value orientation of today’s urban African society, with large gaps between social groups, resulting in relatively high crime rates and detoriating trust in others.
The value distribution on the ‘Rules & Hierarchy’ factor apparently follows the GNP logic (except for South Africa). Given the naming, it seems a little odd to see South Africa on the last place and Germany being penultimate.
Ghana is ranking highest among the African countries on the religiosity factor, only preceded by Guyana in the total sample. This can be supported by personal experience in Ghana, where it is much easier to find a church than a public telephone. It is common throughout the country to see a bunch of plastic chairs standing on a cement foundation interlarded with cement pillars, serving as a church. The rest is built when enough donations are gathered.
The ‘Traditional Wisdom’ dimension opposes Hong Kong and Malaysia to all other countries and is therefore highly correlated with Confucianism (Chinese Culture Connection, 1987). Ghana’s score here is on the same level as Germany’s, but there is not much variance on the non-Asian side.
‘Sharing’ really differentiates across countries. They load on this factor independently of their region or GNP, white South Africans score lowest, Senegalese highest, Ghana is situated near the mean score. This construct is interpreted to reflect countries’ endorsement of sharing wealth.
‘Jealousy’ separates the English from the French questionnaire version cluster and has to be seen as an artifact (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2005), while ‘Collectivism’ is a smorgasbord of items and not related to Hofstede's or Schwartz’s conceptions.
‘Societal Responsibility’ consists of only two items, but one is directly referring to ethnical conflict. The variance across countries is quite large, and Ghana – as with ‘Importance of Religion’ - is ranking second behind Guyana.
The last cross-cultural study to mention here is based on the sophisticated analysis by Schwartz (1992, 1994, 1999), who postulated a universal circumplex structure of ten dependent values, forming a motivational continuum. His theory was statistically validated to a great extent in more than 200 samples, representing over 60 countries and 60,000 subjects. While this circumplex describes the associations between similar values within cultures, the data was also used for cross-cultural comparison, yielding a similar circumplex with three basic dimensions, depicted in Figure 4. Munene, Schwartz and Smith (2000) made a predominantly descriptive comparison between African and West European countries. They used non-standardized mean scores and provided ranking data for 54 countries. Non-comparability of mean scores across countries has already been discussed several times. The appeal of Schwartz’s approach lies in the bipolarity of his conception, enabling conclusions about the endorsement of values of one pole relative to the other. Comparisons of the resulting Ghanaian value structure to these of the other 54 countries should be interpreted with care.
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The value types under the blue semicircle in Figure 4 are endorsed more than those on the opposing right side by Ghanaian teachers and students within the country, and also relative the total sample of 54 countries. Drawing on Schwartz’s (1999) description of these value types, it can be inferred that the Ghanaian culture values embeddedness and so stresses the maintenance of the status quo, propriety and restraint of actions that might disrupt the solidary group or traditional order. Ghanaians seek meaning of life through social relationship, through identifying with the group they are embedded in. It seems plausible to argue that this group will mainly consist of the chiefdom one is living under, and so regional origin, which is still an organizing element in modern Ghana. This confirms the notion that Ghana would be a collectivistic (Hofstede, 1980) or communalistic (Edoho, 2001) society.
Ghanaians appear to value hierarchy more than egalitarianism. In societies high on that value type, a hierarchical system of ascribed roles assures social responsible behavior. Unequal distributions of power, roles and resources are accepted. This tendency might also support stereotypical status differences dependent on membership in ethnic groups. On the other hand, it might foster the dependence of employees’ self-categorization as being a member of a certain workgroup, and so suppress conflicts within that group for the sake of unity.
Last, mastery is valued relatively higher than harmony. This contradicts popular romantic beliefs about Africans living in harmony with nature and fitting into the environment. Ghana ranks second in mastery and 52nd out of the 54 countries in harmony. It can be reasoned that Ghanaians are engaging in more conflict to reach their goals. As they also endorse embeddedness, the combination of both might result in higher group conflicts. This is consistent with the notion that Ghanaians prefer their “kith and kin” to out-group members.
To sum up the results from cross-cultural research that included Ghana, it can be reasoned that this society values:
- ingroup coherence, collectivism, societal responsibility
- exploitation of the social and economic environment for own interests
It is important to differentiate between values and actual behaviors. The GLOBE study (House et al., 2004) assessed values (“as it should be”) and practices (“as it is”). They did not include Ghana. Some other studies linked values and practices (e.g. Smith et al., 2002; Munuene et al., 2000), but they again did not include Ghana. Noorderhaven and Tidjani (2001) correlated values and objective scores for GNP and corruption, but there is nothing useful to learn for the present study.
Studies on management in Ghana.There is a small amount of work-related research conducted in Ghana. Price (1975) gave a nice first example of the impact of extended family relations on expectations in the Ghanaian public sector. They used the scenario of an employee who is a cousin of his head of department and receives an official letter that he would be transferred from Accra to Tamale, but rather wants to stay in the capital. The 434 subjects were questioned about (a) the legitimate role behavior, (b) the estimate of normal behavior and (c) the expectation of the employee towards the head of department, his cousin. Around 75% believed the legitimate role behavior to be complying with the norm (sending him to Tamale), 80% estimated the normal behavior to be particularistic (performing actions to keep him in Accra) and 92% thought the relative would exactly expect this behavior.
Analoui (1999) conducted semi-structured interviews about managerial perception and effectiveness with 71 senior managers in the public sector. While his account is merely descriptive, it gives a vivid image about the state of affairs in Ghanaian management. He coded responses and created a rank order for eight identified crucial parameters of effectiveness, e.g. leadership, motivation or constraints of effectiveness. Asking what makes a good manager, the highest-ranking perception was related to output orientation, while the ten following characteristics were clearly relationship oriented, for example “A good listener”. The highest motivator was remuneration, which actually was evaluated as poor. Managers had to involve in ‘projects of some sort’ in order to compensate for their income, which only paid for one third of their monthly expenses. The next three motivators ranked equally important were related to recognition of accomplishments, job satisfaction and training, and again the author found a lack of them. Constraints of effectiveness were basically material resource oriented, e.g. insufficient technical equipment or means of transportation. Analoui also mentions the lack of teamwork as being mentioned by nearly all managers. Further he describes the dominant managerial philosophy (p. 386):“In all organizations, there seems to be a tendency on the part of the management for centralization, top-down management, overemphasis on control and managerial decision making. […] Distrust between the subordinate and the superior seemed to be the norm. Favoritism and victimization were reported to be the norm rather than the exceptions”.
Barr and Oduro (2001) analyzed the question of whether ethnic fractionalization gives rise to differential treatment of employees, based on ethnic origin in Ghanaian organizations. Wage variance could partly be attributed to variation in a standard set of worker’s characteristics such as education and experience, but a large proportion of the earnings differential was attributable to ethnic fractionalization in the labor market. Workers who were related to their employers earned a premium, and there was evidence of discrimination in favor of inexperienced co-ethnic employees.
Summary.Ghana is in transition from a post-colonial third world to a more modern second world country. Its surface-level description implies an ethnically diverse societal set-up. Recent political events have fostered ethnical rivalries that date back at least 500 years. Gender equality is not present, but might be higher then in other third world countries, due to a widespread matrilineal system. Cross-cultural studies suggest the Ghanaian culture valuing hierarchy, tradition, religion, in-group coherence, collectivism, societal responsibility and the exploitation of social and economic environments for self- interest more than its counterparts. The few studies on management in Ghana highlight the role of the social categories ethnic origin and sex in Ghanaians work-life.
Still, research on diversity or favoritism has mostly been restricted to employment situations. To date, no systematical studies have been conducted on the negative effects or possible benefits of diversity in different attributes on dyadic relationship and exchange processes or group performance within workgroups in Ghana. The overarching headline for these issues is person-environment fit. The following sections will give an overview of current research devoted to this topic.
The broad theoretical framework for the present study is that of person-environment (P-E) fit. It stems from person-environment interaction theories, prevalent in the literature for over 100 years (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005; Ekehammer, 1974; Lewin, 1935; Parson, 1902). They state that behavioral or cognitive outcome is a function of the individual person, the situation and their interaction. In this line of research, personality (e.g. Fried & Ferris, 1987) or situations (e.g. Colbert, Mount, Harter, Witt & Barrick, 2004) are often viewed as moderators of the situation- or personality-outcome relationship. Kristof-Brown et al. (2005) argue that despite their conceptual appeal, these moderator studies would rarely measure person and environment attributes on commensurate dimensions, making it impossible to directly compare P and E values – a fundamental property of the P-E fit theory. Further, the "interaction between person and environment variables does not reflect their proximity to one another" (Edwards, Caplan & Harrison, 1998: 41).
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Note that the present study takes a black box perspective, as the frequently made distinction between objective and perceived fit is not implemented, the latter being the result of a cognitive comparison between perceived environment characteristics and internal self representations (e.g. Edwards, Cable, Williamson, Lambert & Shipp, 2006; Wayne and Liden, 1995). As P-E fit studies were not conducted in Ghana so far, it seems necessary to first assess the impact of objective fit or diversity. Furthermore, subjective ratings of fit might well be a function of liking, and relations to other self-rated variables might merely reflect acquiescence bias, which seems to be a major problem in questionnaire research in African countries. Appropriate, validated instruments for the assessment of subjective fit in Ghana are missing anyway, and western instruments might lack validity. It seems more secure to use objective independent criteria in order to augment confidence in the results.
P-E fit embraces several diverse research foci, as environment itself comprises everything from wallpapers to co-workers' ethnical origins or supervisors' personalities. The approach is always a dyadic one: Individuals are compared to a certain entity on certain attributes. Kristof-Brown et al. (2005) separate five different conceptualizations within the broad perspective of P-E fit in the work context:
Person-Vocation Fit, Person-Job Fit, Person-Organization Fit, Person-Group (P-G) Fit and Person-Supervisor (P-S) Fit. The present study included measures of P-G and P-S Fit:
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The following sections will define, narrow and clarify the framework of the present study, present empirical studies related to its three approaches dyadic P-S similarity, P-G similarity and workgroup diversity, as well as for the implemented attributes used: sex, ethnic origin, age and openness to experience. Further, the possible moderators context and tenure are discussed.
The research field of P-E fit is as diverse as the environment itself, which by nature of human's cognition could be separated into virtually infinite conditions. Whatever context researchers choose, whether it is the organization, the workgroup, the occupation, the job or the supervisor, they are still left with all meaningful content dimensions that psychology has to offer; they can choose, e.g., between skills, needs, preferences, values, personality traits, demographic characteristics, goals or attitudes.
Jackson (1996) provided a two-dimensional framework to structure the diverse range of attributes, depicted in Table 4.
Table 4: Dimensions of diversity characteristics (based on Jackson, 1996)
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The readily detectible vs. underlying dimension is acquaintance-related. Readily detectible attributes already have an effect at zero acquaintance – they elicit stereotypes that guide behavior (e.g. Bargh, 1999; Bargh, Chen & Burrows, 1996; Tsui & Farh, 1997). Physical attractiveness is seen as the strongest stereotype of all, eliciting maximum favoritism towards a person, followed by ethnic origin (Eagly, Ashmore, Makhijani & Longo, 1991). Statistically spoken: if more information is gathered about a person, the stereotypes loose their regression weights for the prediction of behavior towards or cognitions about the stereotyped person – the person’s underlying attributes become more important.
Harrison et al. (1998) categorized demographic variables as surface-level attributes, which would differ meaningfully from deep-level characteristics such as values, goals or attitudes. Information about the latter factors would be communicated through verbal and nonverbal behavioral patterns, and only be learned through extended interaction. They demonstrated that over time, fit on deep-level characteristics like job satisfaction and affective commitment had the greatest impact on outcomes. A drawback is that these attitudinal deep-level characteristics are usually used as outcome variables in relational demography research, and might be influenced by demographic fit.
The second dimension reflects the task and relationship (interpersonal or socio-emotional) dichotomy in general group functioning (McGrath, 1984), similar to what some researchers call taskwork and teamwork (e.g. Morgan, Glickman, Woodward, Blaiwes & Salas, 1986). While task-related characteristics primarily influence decision making processes and so performance, relations-oriented attributes are thought to have an effect on affective outcomes and group processes like cohesion, that could affect performance as well (West, Borill & Unsworth, 1998).
Most of the readily detectible attributes are demographic ones. There is a certain line of research especially devoted to the effects of demographic fit, called relational demography, introduced by Tsui and O'Reilly (1989).
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Their argument is that although many studies revealed direct effects of demographic characteristics, e.g. of race on selection decisions (McIntire, Moberg & Posner, 1980) or age on job performance (Waldmann & Aviolo, 1986), they do not capture the full impact of potential demographic effects, stemming from group composition or subordinate-supervisor similarity. They found significant regression coefficients for the P-S Fit variables gender, race, education and job tenure, on reputational effectiveness, supervisory affect, role ambiguity and role conflict as dependent variables, after inserting the superiors' and subordinates' simple demographic attributes into a blocked regression analyses.
Later research found that similarity in race and sex was associated with higher job satisfaction, liking, commitment, trust, leader-member exchange (LMX) and communication behavior, and reduced emotional conflict, intention to leave and actual turnover (SØrensen, 2004; Gothelp & Glunk, 2003; Pelled & Xin, 2000; Chattopadhyay, 1999; Chatman, Polzer, Barsade & Neale, 1998; Ensher & Murphy, 1997; Riordan & Shore, 1997; Green, Anderson & Shivers, 1996; Wiersma & Bird, 1993; Tsui, Egan & O'Reilly, 1992; O'Reilly, Caldwell & Barnett, 1989). The result patterns for gender and race usually indicate that P-S and Person-Organization Fit are positively associated with outcomes, although null results have also been reported (e.g. Pelled, 1996; Epitropaki & Martin, 1999). For the other commonly used relational demographic attributes like age-, tenure- or education the results are less consistent. There are good reasons for these facts, as will be shown later.
The difference between diversity and similarity as described above is the level of analysis. While diversity inherently refers to a variance within a certain group, similarity is the result of a dyadic comparison that can be undertaken on multiple levels of analyses. Fit studies usually compare individuals to a certain entity and use the resulting fit or similarity variable to predict outcomes on the individual level.
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Diversity research studies effects on the group level. It is a variable assigned to a certain group of individuals, indicating the group-wide similarity versus difference between all its members. The outcome variable is usually on the group level as well, e.g. workgroup performance or members’ mean affective commitment.
Studies by Ostroff and Rothausen (1997) and Vancouver, Millsap and Peters (1994) demonstrate that fit-outcome relationships differ when they are assessed at higher levels of analyses, underlining the need to differentiate aggregate-level fit studies from others. Sacco and Schmitt (2005) state that virtually no published research has simultaneously examined concrete individual- and workgroup or organizational-level outcomes within an integrated multilevel context. More recent studies integrate different levels of analyses and found independent and differential effects of similarity on different levels of analyses (e.g. Elfenbein & O'Reilly, 2007). Nonetheless the boundaries between diversity and P-E research are not fixed. Some researchers explore the impact of group composition on individual level outcomes. The theoretical background of diversity studies relies on results gained from fit studies and vice versa.
Most of the present diversity research has been focused on demographic workgroup compositions in terms of sex, age, race or tenure (Milliken & Martins 1996; see Williams & O'Reilly, 1998 for a review). Pfeffer (1983) introduced the term organizational demography to refer to the distribution of demographic characteristics within an organizational unit. He argued that higher diversity was associated with higher amounts of conflict within a unit, which in turn negatively impacts performance, innovation, turnover and power distribution.
Unlike studies in relational demography, where similarity is seen as universally endorsed, diversity seems to have a second – positive – side to it as well. Some researchers hold that diverse groups outperform homogenous ones, especially in decision-making and creativity tasks (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996; Jackson, 1996; West 2002). Especially laboratory findings support diversity benefits (e.g. Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991; Watson, Kumar & Michaelson, 1993). For example, McLeod, Lobel and Cox (1996) compared performance of ethnically diverse to ethnically homogeneous groups in a brainstorming task. The ideas produced by ethnically diverse groups were judged to be more effective and feasible than the ideas produced by homogeneous groups.
Most literature emphasizes the possibility to benefit from diversity. Instead of building homogenous workgroups to avoid emerging conflict, they stress the role of mediators like organizational culture, tenure or task attributes (e.g. Kühlmann & Stahl, 2006; Kleinbeck, 2006; Wegge, 2006), which would turn the possible problem into a benefit. This view is also reflected in the managing diversity discourse (e.g. Thomas, 1990; Cox, 1992; Kandola & Fullerton, 1994), where it is frequently stated that organizations have to create an organizational climate of openness towards heterogeneity, and value diversity and minorities to profit of the more and more diverse workforce, and to keep pace with the ongoing process of globalization, leading to multinational organizations and work teams.
On the other hand, a substantial amount of results from the field underlines the risks and drawbacks resulting from high workgroup diversity. It was found that the more homogenous the workgroup, the higher member commitment (Riordan & Shore, 1997), job satisfaction (Leiba & Ondrack, 1994), cooperation (Espinoza & Garza, 1985; Garza & Santos, 1991), communication (Hoffmann, 1985), consideration (Cady & Valentine, 1999) and group cohesion (O'Reilly et al., 1989), the fewer relational conflicts will occur (Jehn, Northcraft & Neale, 1999) and the less likely members will turn over (Wagner, Pfeffer & O'Reilly, 1984). Studies in western cultures have shown direct, negative relationships between racial heterogeneity and team effectiveness (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992; Lichtenstein, Alexander, Jinett & Ullmann, 1997; Timmermann, 2000; Sacco & Schmitt, 2005). Racial diversity was strongly associated with individual perceptions of low team effectiveness and poor supervisory relations in cross-functional teams. Another study found that as the racial and gender diversity of a team increased, members’ perceptions of the quality of their relationship with their team leaders decreased (Baugh & Graen, 1997). Especially members of ethnic minorities within multicultural workgroups report negative diversity effects (Mai-Dalton, 1993). They are less committed and more likely to turnover (Harrison et al. 1998; Tsui et al., 1992).
Reviews and meta-analyses of the effects of diversity arrive at different conclusions as well: while Williams and O’Reilly (1998) found that a demographically diverse team’s problems generally outweighed its performance benefits, with functionally diverse groups being the only exception, Webber and Donahue (2001), and Bowers, Pharmers and Salas (2000) both reported null effects of diversity on team performance and group cohesion. Diversity seems to be a hazard, an opportunity, or irrelevant, which calls for the search for moderators and differentiation of attributes. But first, theories explaining the effect itself will be presented.
The most commonly used theoretical foundations for explaining positive associations of fit variables or group homogeneity and outcomes stem from the similarity-attraction paradigm (Byrne, 1971), social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986) and self-categorization theory (Turner, 1987).
Early research on thesimilarity-attractionparadigm found that similarity of values, beliefs, and experiences results in high interpersonal attraction (Byrne, 1971; Harrison, 1976) across diverse populations. Tsui and O'Reilly (1989) argue that although this research has mainly focused on deep-level characteristics, the similarity effect would be generalizable on any number of dimensions, including demographic ones. Individuals who are similar in background would share common life experiences and values, and would find the interaction with each other easier, more positive, and more desirable. Linehan et al. (2006) state that the effect for demographic similarity only occurs if this similarity is associated with similarity of beliefs, values and experiences. It seems plausible to argue that perceived similarity in values is inferred from surface-level attributes like demographic characteristics at little to medium acquaintance, but that after frequent interactions it might be deep-level characteristics that attract. In free choice situations, there is a strong tendency for people to choose similar other persons for interaction (e.g. Burt & Reagans, 1997; Lincoln & Miller, 1979). So individuals who are dissimilar on the surface-level might never get to know each other closely enough to discover their potential deep-level congruence. This results in what sociologists call homophily (McPherson, Smith-Lovin & Cook, 2001): People's personal networks are homogeneous with regard to many sociodemographic, behavioral, and intrapersonal characteristics.
Further, individuals are assumed to have a desire to maintain a high level of self-esteem (e.g. Brockner, 1988) and a positive self-identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). A person'ssocial identityconsists of "those aspects of an individual's self-image that derive from the social categories to which he perceives himself as belonging" (Tajfel & Turner, 1986: p.16). An individual's self image includes various social identities, ranging from being employed by a certain organization to his or her ethnic origin. The definition underlines the perception of the person. Individuals do not identify themselves with every possible category researchers might superimpose on them, but with salient categories in a particular context. The identification itself is a psychological construct, referred to asself-categorization(Turner, 1987). It reflects the degree of similarity between the qualities attributed by an individual to a certain social category and the qualities the individual currently incorporates in his self-image (Chattopadhyay et al., 2004). If this self-categorization process permits the individual to assume a positive self-identity, intergroup distinctiveness is maximized and out-group members are perceived as less attractive (Kramer, 1991). To maintain and further enhance high self-esteem, individuals usually perceive themselves and similar others as forming a positively valued in-group and compare themselves favorably to out-group members, which are devaluated or discriminated (Brewer & Brown, 1998). They tend to like and trust in-group members more than out-group members (Brewer, 1979; Tajfel & Turner, 1986; Turner 1987). In a review, Tajfel (1982) reported over 30 studies that used minimal or near to minimal categorizations, all showing in-group biases. Tajfel and Turner (1986: p.16) conclude that in organizations, the definitions of the self and others are likely to be "relational and comparative".
Relational demography researchers argue that employees have a strong tendency to categorize themselves and others based on readily detectible surface-level attributes like race, sex and age (e.g. Baugh & Graen, 1997; Tsui & O'Reilly, 1992). This assumption is consistent with the literature on the inescapability of automatic stereotype elicitation (e.g. Bargh et al. 1996; Fazio, Jackson, Dunton & Williams, 1995). Furthermore, it has been shown to be more likely that categorizations are used if their markers are readily detectable, and meaningful indicators for group construal (Fiske, 1998; Rothbart & John, 1993; Stangor, Lynch, Duan & Glass, 1992).
Health and development are tightly associated (World Development Report, 2006).
The NEO-PI-R assesses the well-established Big 5 personality factors neuroticism (N), extraversion (E), openness to experience (O), conscientiousness (C), and agreeableness (A).
This dimension was named long- vs. short-term orientation by Hofstede (e.g. 2005).
The Zulus are the major ethnic group in South Africa.
The coastal part of Ghana was called Gold Coast in colonial times.
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