"Reinventing the wheel over and over again": Organizational learning, memory and forgetting in doing diversity work
Number of pages
SourceEquality, Diversity and Inclusion, 39, 4, (2020), pp. 379-393
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SW OZ RSCR SOC
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies; Inequality Cohesion Rationalization; Radboud Gender & Diversity Studies; Ongelijkheid Cohesie Rationalisatie
Purpose: One of the urgent questions in the field of diversity is the knowledge about effective diversity practices. This paper aims to advance our knowledge on organizational change toward diversity by combining concepts from diversity studies and organizational learning. Design/methodology/approach: By employing a social practice approach to organizational learning, the author will be able to go beyond individual learning experiences of diversity practices but see how members negotiate the diversity knowledge and how they integrate their new knowledge in their day-to-day organizational norms and practices. The analysis draws on data collected during a longitudinal case study in a financial service organization in the Netherlands. Findings: This study showed how collective learning practices took place but were insufficiently anchored in a collective memory. Change agents have the task to build "new" memory on diversity policies and gender inequality as well as to use organizational memory to enable diversity policies and practices to be implemented. The inability to create a community of practice impeded the change agenda. Research limitations/implications Future research could expand our knowledge on collective memory of knowledge on diversity further and focus on the way employees make use of this memory while doing diversity. Practical implications: The current literature often tends to analyze the effectiveness of diversity practices as linear processes, which is insufficient to capture the complexity of a change process characterized with layers of negotiated and politicized forms of access to resources. The author would argue for more future work on nonlinear and process-based perspectives on organizational change. Originality/value: The contribution is to the literature on diversity practices by showing how the lack of collective memory to "store" individual learning in the organization has proven to be a major problem in the management of diversity.
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