University of Oulu

Kaasila-Pakanen, A.-L. (2016). A Postcolonial Deconstruction of Diversity Management and Multiculturalism. In R. Bendl, I. Bleijenbergh, E. Henttonen, & A. J. Mills (Eds.), Oxford Handbooks Online. Oxford University Press.

A postcolonial deconstruction of diversity management and multiculturalism

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Author: Kaasila-Pakanen, Anna-Liisa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Area, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oxford university press, 2016
Publish Date: 2021-10-07


Because issues of workplace diversity are strongly affected by historical power relations, this chapter adopts a postcolonial perspective to critically review the notion of multiculturalism that underlies the current paradigm of diversity. To search for alternative grounds for the theoretical development of diversity management, multiculturalism is investigated as an instrument of control deeply connected to broader institutionalized power structures. Drawing on key insights from postcolonialism, it is argued that embracing multiculturalism has resulted in diversity research that is inappropriate for addressing the complex realities of cultural encounters in which identities and otherness are constructed in contemporary organizations. The chapter demonstrates that by relying on multiculturalism, diversity becomes presented through simplistic and fixed categorizations of identity and culture that reinforce inequalities. Stressing the importance of considering culture from a new perspective, and an alternative approach for theorizing cultural diversity through the concept of the third space is introduced.

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ISBN: 978-0-19-967980-5
Pages: 175 - 194
DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199679805.013.31
Host publication: The Oxford Handbook of diversity in organizations
Host publication editor: Bendl, Regine
Bleijenbergh, Inge
Henttonen, Elina
Mills, Albert J.
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
520 Other social sciences
Copyright information: © 2015 Oxford University Press. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. The final authenticated version is available online at