Managing Protean Diversity: An Empirical Analysis of How Organizational Contextual Dynamics Derailed and Dissolved Global Workforce Diversity

Mikkel Mouritz Marfelt, Sara Louise Muhr

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Recently, global workforce diversity and its management have received criticism for not paying attention to the contextual influence stemming from socially constructed dialectics of power and politics. These contextual dynamics, however, tend to be viewed as external to the organization. In this article, we follow the call for critically investigating the contexts influencing diversity management by analyzing the development of a global human resource management project initiated to promote a culturally diverse workforce. We find that despite good intentions, as well as support from the top management, the project dissolves through micropolitics and power dynamics. We contribute to the critical literature on workforce diversity by identifying how organizational contextual dynamics influence the way the concept of workforce diversity is constructed and understood at work. Based on these findings, we develop the concept of protean diversity to better understand how to manage the ever-changing and unstable nature of contemporary workforce diversity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cross Cultural Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)231-251
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Contextual dynamics
  • Diversity management
  • HRM practices
  • Politics
  • Power
  • Protean diversity

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