Focus of the Study

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Thesis: Diversity Facilitates Knowledge Sharing in Inter-unit Collaborations in Non-profit Organizations

Project Aims

The main aim of this [project is to determine the characteristics of workplace diversity with specific attention to the amount of knowledge. Moreover, the project also aims at determining the impact of diversity management on knowledge sharing within the departments of an organization.

Research Questions

The main research question guiding this study is whether diversity can help to facilitate the sharing of knowledge among employees in a non-profit organization. Diversity can be defined as the existence of different varieties of skills, experiences, knowledge, beliefs, and other dimensions of people within a particular setting. Therefore, a diverse setting is one that has various characteristics that distinguish each one person from the other. Knowledge sharing is a very critical aspect of enhancing the knowledge and experience of the workforce (Noe, 2013).

In a highly diversified workforce, each employee will have his/her own level of skills, experience, knowledge, and understanding (Noe, 2013). Through a collaborative effort such as teamwork, the employees are expected to share their knowledge and experiences in a manner that facilities others to learn from other employees (Morfaw, 2009). The concept of diversity management has been traditionally a mainstay in the profit making organizations as they seek to gain a competitive edge in their industries by using the various skills, knowledge, and experience that is at their disposal in the company. However, recent years have seen many not for profit organizations also focus more on diversity management and knowledge sharing, similar to their profit making counterparts (Collins & Smith, 2006). This is necessitated by the desire of these nonprofit making organizations to remain competitive in delivering high quality human services as well as continuing in their efforts to attract funding from donors (Collins & Smith, 2006).

Besides this main research question, the study will also seek to respond to various other related research questions, which are all linked to the main objectives of the study. These are;

To what extent does diversity influence individual behavior in nonprofit organizations?

What are some of the issues raised in contemporary literature on the topic?

Background

The broad concept of diversity has surpassed gender, race, and ethnicity among other factors (Noe, 2013). Previous studies have defined diversity in a number of ways. According to Deloitte (2011), diversity is what makes people and entities unique; it includes backgrounds, life experiences, personality, and beliefs. Put differently, diversity is what makes people and entities to be what they are (Morfaw, 2009). Diversity is the combination of the invisible and visible differences that inform peoples view of the world as well as perspectives and approaches (Jackson et al., 2006).

Today, knowledge is a distinct form of workplace diversity (Jackson et al., 2006). Understanding how knowledge affects competitiveness at the organizational level is very critical (Jackson et al., 2006). Thus, it is important for organizations to strive to create a good envirnemt for learning and knowledge sharing to take place (Iwata, 2004). This can be achieved through examining, challenging, and removing the institutional structures and practices that hinder effective knowledge sharing in order to attain competitiveness in an organization (Iwata, 2004).

One most important aspect of diversity in organizations is knowledge sharing. In a diverse workplace environment, employees possess different levels of skills, knowledge, and experience. Therefore, knowledge sharing is seen as a critical aspect of managing diversity to help organizations achieve competitiveness. Knowledge sharing is a critical channel through which the workforce can contribute to innovation, knowledge application, and eventually the competitiveness of the organization (Jackson et al., 2006). According to Collins & Smith (2006, knowledge sharing positively relates to lower production costs, speedier completion of projects, firm innovation capabilities, team performance, and firm performance in the form of revenue growth.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

a) Diversity

While much of the existing literary studies have centered on the impact of diversity on profit making organizations, the non-profit sector is also feeling the impact of workforce diversity (Noe, 2013). Non-profit organizations work with different communities empowering them and making positive contributions in life changing situations (Morfaw, 2009).

According to Hume (2013), workforce diversity brings together individual employees from different backgrounds in terms of their culture, religion, race, age, abilities, and ethnicities. Therefore, each person in the workforce has their own way of approaching issues and challenges in the organization.

Effective diversity management in organizations is very critical in strengthening an organizations competitive advantage. Diversity management helps the organization to address issues of change in management, organizational behavior, and customer relations (Jackson, Chuang, Harden, Jiang, & Joseph, 2006). If all these aspects of diversity are addressed, the organization will be better placed to serve its customers, offer high-quality products and services, and face off any emerging or existing competition (Hume, 2013).

According to Jackson, Chuang, Harden, Jiang, & Joseph (2006), an organization where diversity in the workforce lacks, there are bound to be tensions among the different cohorts of workers, which may derail the company from functioning properly to achieve its objectives. Part of the reasons why the tensions between the younger and older employees in the company keep growing is social stereotypes .Based on these stereotypes, young people are considered less experienced and less knowledgeable, hence, are unfit to hold powerful positions in the organizations hierarchy. On the other hand, the older employees perceive themselves to be more knowledgeable and more experienced to take up leadership positions in the company. However, such stereotypes are baseless in the modern society where younger people have access to more information via the internet, the chance to advance their education, and various opportunities to learn new leadership skills (Kunze, Boehm, and Bruch, 2013). Therefore, any young employee who shows great potential in leadership must be given an opportunity to put their knowledge and experience into action for the benefit of the organization.

An organization that takes its diversity management seriously will be able to educate its employees on the importance of building strong relations and creating a good environment for every person in the organization (Jackson, Chuang, Harden, Jiang, & Joseph, 2006).Diversity in large organizations encourages cross-cultural communication and intercultural interactions. Cross-cultural communication refers to the ability of an organization to successfully create, facilitate, strengthen, and improve the relationships between members of different cultural backgrounds within an organizations environment (Iwata, 2004). Intercultural networking, on the other hand, entails interactions between people from different cultures. Cross-cultural communication is very important for contemporary organizations for various reasons. For instance, it allows an organization to create a favorable corporate culture that can accommodate all employees regardless of their cultural backgrounds. No employee will feel left out because of the conducive environment that allows them to communicate and engage with others from different cultures (Jackson, Chuang, Harden, Jiang, & Joseph, 2006). Notably, cross-cultural communication is important for contemporary companies because it boosts the performance and productivity of the workforce, thereby giving the organization a competitive edge over other firms in the industry.

With multicultural teams, it is easier for an organization to solve its challenges based on the multiple solutions that are likely to come from the different cultural backgrounds in the team. Each culture has its own approach for dealing with various issues (Guy, 2009). Therefore, with different options available, an organization can find it easier to make decisions and resolve emerging issues within the market it operates. Intercultural communication is also significant nowadays as most organizations have global operations (Kunze, Boehm, and Bruch, 2013). Organizations employees will have to interact with customers from around the world (Guy, 2009). Proper intercultural communication can help the organization manage its global customers without belittling their culture through offensive products, marketing campaigns, and poor customer service.

Workforce diversity management can be done using various ways. The two main approaches that organizations can use to ensure inclusiveness in employment are the radical approach and the liberal approach (Iwata, 2004). The liberal approach assumes that there is the equal opportunity only when all individuals are able to compete for the rewards freely. According to this approach, employment should only focus on the merit of individuals rather than factors such as gender, age disability or race.

b) Knowledge/Management

Nonprofit organizations in Australia and indeed the entire world are growing at a very rapid rate. These organizations are in constant competition for funding, donations, volunteers, and staff to be able to provide their humanitarian services and contribute towards environmental sustainability at both the local, national, and international platforms (Glibnert, Stead, and Ivancevich, 1999). This implies that the needs of these organizations are also growing by the day to the extent that both national and international funders cannot adequately fund for all their programs (Hume, 2013). Consequently, this has driven most of the nonprofit organizations in the world, and particularly in Australia, to adopt commercial practices in order to be in a position to attract volunteers, staff, donors, and be in a position to deliver their services efficiently. One of the commercial practices that is increasingly being adopted in the nonprofit sector is knowledge management (Hume, 2013). Knowledge management has been fundamental for the success of the profit-making organizations for several years through knowledge sharing. By adopting similar strategies, the nonprofit organizations are aiming at achieving competitiveness that will enable them attract the best stakeholders to join their course.

Knowledge sharing involves the exchange of information, skills, and expertise among individual within an organization. Knowledge plays a very critical role in the contemporary business environment as more organizations realize the value of knowledge as an intangible asset vital in creating competitive advantage in their industries (Glibnert, Stead, and Ivancevich, 1999). As such, contemporary organizations must strive to create Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) to help on the management of all knowledge sharing activities and processes within their environment. Knowledge in organizations is affected by numerous factors including technology, organizational culture, incentives and trust among employees (Hume,...

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