Leveraging Diversity Through Dialogue: An Empirical Enquiry into Three Knowledge-Heavy Companies in Denmark

Anna Christine Christensen & Annika Lieckfeldt

Student thesis: Master thesis


With increasing diversity at the workplace, it becomes essential for businesses to find out how that diversity can be used as a competitive advantage. Addressing a gap in the literature, this thesis explores how diversity in companies may be leveraged through dialogue: what are the benefits and challenges, and how may it be done in practice? Taking a critical realist approach, the theories of Thomas & Ely (1996) on diversity and of Isaacs (1999) on dialogue are linked as the basis for qualitative research in three knowledge heavy companies within banking, tech and pharma, where 10 managers and employees have been interviewed. The findings indicate that dialogue is being used to leverage diversity with great corporate benefits, but rarely methodologically and systematically. The companies also encounter challenges, several of which may stem from business rationales that are at odds with rationales inherent to a dialogical approach, and we have applied the concept of institutional logics to shed light on this. The findings further suggest that a more conscious, strategic use of dialogue combined with inclusive thinking may increase the benefits of diversity. Future research may include what it may mean to the shape and form of dialogue that employees are often spread over large geographical distances and how that, in turn, may affect the effectiveness of dialogue.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Diversity and Change Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages115