Several organizational theories suggest that cultural minorities (employees born in a country different from the country of the host organization) may have lower levels of commitment to their organizations than majority group members. This also implies that cultural minorities may be less effective performers, more likely to quit, etc., than majority group employees. To provide a much-needed test of this general hypothesis, the researchers (Rupert et al., 2010) surveyed 107 employees of a multinational corporation in the Netherlands. About 21% of the participants were considered cultural minorities. In addition to comparing the commitment of minority and majority group members, the authors also explored two factors (leadership and pressure to conform) that may help explain the degree of commitment cultural minorities tend to have to their organizations.
RESULTS OF THE RESEARCH STUDY
Contrary to what has been suggested by past theories, the researchers found that the cultural minority group employees actually had higher levels of affective organizational commitment (i.e. they feel emotionally attached) and normative organizational commitment (i.e. they feel obligated) than the majority group employees. Their results also suggest that cultural minorities may be more affected by pressures to conform and task-oriented leadership than majority group members. The authors suggest that this may be because cultural minorities are more focused on how they should behave at work compared to majority group members (who presumably already know how to behave at work).
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ORGANIZATIONS
The authors note that care should be taken when interpreting their results, given the very small number of cultural minority group members surveyed in the study. Nevertheless, the results clearly refute the general notion that cultural minorities automatically have lower levels of commitment to their organizations. In fact, it may be that they are sensitive to task-oriented leadership and pressures to conform (more so than majority group members) and thus develop higher levels of normative organizational commitment. The reason for their higher levels of affective commitment remains unclear.
Rupert, J., Jehn, K.A., van Engen, M.L., & de Reuver, R.S.M. (2010). Commitment of cultural minorities in organizations: Effects of leadership and pressure to conform. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25, 25-37.