Multidimensionality: A Cross-Disciplinary Review and Integration

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Xing Liu, Jieun Park, Christina Hymer, and Sherry M. B. Thatcher of the University of South Carolina. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Multidimensionality: A Cross-Disciplinary Review and Integration,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reveal the inspiration for conducting this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

Guided by a mutual interest in diversity, we wanted to provide a perspective that captured the increasingly complex view of diversity in today’s society. Views about diversity are no longer limited to differences on one attribute or dimension, such as race or gender, but take into consideration bundles of differences, such as the differences between being a white male, a black male, a black female, and a white female. Our goal in reviewing the literature on individuals’ multidimensionality was to integrate diverse points of view and provide a theoretical framework for advancing research within this exciting and increasingly relevant area. Our review highlighted that there are three main areas where multidimensionality research has been conducted: intersectionality (how bundles of demographic attributes create emergent social identities), faultlines (subgroup divisions generated by the alignment of bundles of attributes across group members), and multiplexity (the overlap of individuals’ multiple relations with others). In our review, we develop a holistic understanding of multidimensionality and illuminate linkages across multidimensionality literatures to pave the way for scholars to advance theoretical and empirical perspectives on this topic. Researchers and managers interested in understanding the roles that multidimensional diversity play in organizations will be interested in this review.

Were there any specific external events –political, social, or economic –that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

This is a unique time in the United States. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed a biracial American president, an increased dialogue around acceptance of LBGTQ individuals, and discussions at the highest levels of corporations on how to ensure that diversity initiatives are inclusive. Researchers and practitioners alike are increasingly recognizing that employees often seek to bring their whole selves to work. The line between work and non-work selves is becoming more blurred in today’s organizational environment. As a result, effective management of employees’ “whole selves” is one way that employers can reap the benefits of their employees’ multidimensionality, such as tapping into their employees’ diverse experiences and social relations. Our review highlights that employees should embrace their own multidimensionality as well as that of their coworkers, subordinates, and managers.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Our review is innovative in that rather than reviewing a set of studies that investigate multidimensionality from a single viewpoint, we explore three literatures that have approached multidimensionality from very different angles. Thus, our review provides a novel perspective to viewing the multidimensional diversity of today’s workforce. We highlight that individuals are not only multidimensional with respect to visible or skill-based attributes, but also multidimensional in their social relations with others. Using this perspective, we can better understand how employees may experience their work environment due to the multiple identifications and categorizations they use to define themselves. Our holistic perspective of multidimensionality is vital for organizations to effectively manage the multidimensional diversity of the workforce and provides a practical framework to help organizations benefit from their employees’ multidimensional diversity.

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Who Is a Leader?

JLOS_72ppiRGB_150pixWAs SIOP 2013 draws near, we’re highlighting industrial-organizational psychology perspectives on management topics. Today, we look at “Five Perspectives on the Leadership– Management Relationship: A Competency- Based Evaluation and Integration,” published by Daniel V. Simonet and Robert P. Tett, both of the University of Tulsa, in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies on December 12, 2012:

How management and leadership are best conceptualized with respect to each other has been a frequent topic of debate. Five distinct perspectives are identified in the literature, including bipolar, unidimensional, bidimensional, hierarchical— management within leadership, and hierarchical—leadership within management. We assessed the viability of these perspectives by having Academy of Management and Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology experts (N = 43) map a comprehensive set of 63 managerial and leadership competencies, as a “common language,” onto defined and undefined management and leadership dimensions. Results reveal interpretable patterns of uniqueness and overlap, suggesting a hybrid co-dimensional/bidimensional configuration. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in light of the precedence of “what” over “how” in developing leadership and management theory.

Click here to continue reading “Five Perspectives on the Leadership– Management Relationship: A Competency- Based Evaluation and Integration,” published by Daniel V. Simonet and Robert P. Tett in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, and stay tuned for more related research ahead of #SIOP13.

Part 5 of 5: What are the Current and Future Implications for a “Work-Life Balance?”

Today we’re continuing our special series of posts on Work-Life Balance. We hope you find the series insightful and thought-provoking.

What are the current and future implications for a “Work-Life Balance?” See the articles below to see what management researchers have to say.

Frank L. Giancola, HR Researcher and Writer, published “Can the Work-Life Movement Regain Its Balance?” in the September/October 2011 issue of Compensation & Benefits Review.

The work–life discipline has been in a period of transformation in recent years for two reasons—no growth in the prevalence of major work–life programs and a decline in the number of work–life specialists. To reinvigorate the field, work–life leaders have changed its signature term, charter and organizational change strategies. The transformation’s success is doubtful because of disagreement over a central premise, a vast and disjointed charter that infringes on other human resources disciplines, and movement into the field by a stronger rival. It will survive, but in a smaller form, based primarily on the concept of workplace flexibility.

Karen J. Crooker, University of Wisconsin–Parkside, Faye L. Smith, Emporia State University, and Filiz Tabak, Towson University, published “Creating Work-Life Balance: A Model of Pluralism across Life Domains” in the December 2002 issue of Human Resource Development Review.

This article develops a theoretical framework that explains how life complexity and dynamism affect work-life balance. The authors explain the moderating effects of munificence and accessibility of resources in one’s life as well as the personality differences and individual value systems on the relationship between life complexity/dynamism and work-life balance. The analysis leads to implications for future research and practice.

Paula J. Caproni, University of Michigan, published “Work/Life Balance: You Can’t Get There From Here” in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

In this article, I contend that the well-intentioned discourse of work/life balance in the popular and scholarly press actually may undermine women’s and men’s attempts to live fulfilling lives. Drawing on feminist and critical perspectives, as well as my own efforts to find “balance” in a two-career family with two children under the age of 4, I illustrate (a) how the work/life discourse reflects the individualism, achievement orientation, and instrumental rationality that is fundamental to modern bureaucratic thought and action and (b) how such discourse may further entrench people in the work/life imbalance that they are trying to escape.

Michael Lane Morris and Susan R. Madsen published “Advancing Work-Life Integration in Individuals, Organizations, and Communities” in the November 2007 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources.

The problem and the solution. Working adults report they experience greater challenges today in their ability to be productive employees, experience personal and interpersonal health and wellbeing, and make meaningful contributions as citizens to their respective communities. By better understanding work–life theory and research, human resource development professionals can contribute to the strategic development of policies, practices, programs, and interventions that appear to alleviate or ameliorate demands fostering greater work–life integration. Integration is a solution representing a holistic strategy including effective and efficient coordination of efforts and energies among all stakeholders sharing interest and benefits from workers being able to fulfill their personal,work, family, and community obligations.

Thank you for your continued interest in our themed week: “Work-life Balance!”

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