Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies

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wellbeing of societies?', Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 11,. No. 1, pp.48–57. Biographical notes: Loay Alnaji is an Associate Professor at Al Ain.

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Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2016

Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies? Loay Alnaji*, Mahmoud Yousef Askari and Ghaleb A. El Refae Al Ain University of Science and Technology, Building B. Al Ain, United Arab Emirates Email: [email protected] Email: [email protected] Email: [email protected] *Corresponding author Abstract: People are different, regardless of their assumed similarities, and acknowledging this reality is important for proper communication and interaction. Failing to acknowledge the existence of differences among those with whom we interact could lead to miscommunication, or even conflict in some cases. Thus, a high level of sensitivity is needed to attain sustainable participation in groups and communities, even if those groups or communities are formed by only a few individuals. This paper explores the role of tolerance towards diverse groups on improving the wellbeing of citizens. The paper finds that there is a significant relationship between a society’s wellbeing and its tolerance towards diverse groups. The paper is divided into three sections. The first section discusses the literature of tolerance and diversity, Section 2 addresses the sample data used in the study and the statistical analysis. The third and last sections introduce the analysis and the results. Keywords: diversity; society wellbeing; Allophilia; tolerance. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Alnaji, L., Askari, M.Y. and El Refae, G.A. (2016) ‘Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies?’, Int. J. Economics and Business Research, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp.48–57. Biographical notes: Loay Alnaji is an Associate Professor at Al Ain University of Science and Technology. He received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Argosy University/USA in 2005 and have been working with several universities on curriculum management, quality management, AACSB accreditation as well as building online environment for on-site universities. He has several publications in management, information systems, entrepreneurship, innovation, as well as quality management. Currently, he is currently working on creating an evaluation system for the innovation engine introduced by Dr. Seelig as well as working on other activities and research topics.

Copyright © 2016 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.

Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies?

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Mahmoud Yousef Askari is an Assistant Professor of Management and an Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Al Ain University of Science and Technology, UAE. He received his Doctorate in Leadership from the University of Calgary, Canada. Before joining Al Ain University, he served as an Analyst and Management Consultant in the retail food industry in Canada. Ghaleb A. El Refae is a Professor in Financial Economics with expertise in higher education management, risk management in higher education institutions and university corporate governance. He endeavoured in researches that covered many themes, including higher education quality, international higher education, diversity and education, risk management in higher education institutions, university corporate governance, asymmetric information in higher education and topics pertaining to financial economics and industrial organization.

1

Introduction

‘United in Diversity’ is the official motto of the European Union1. With so many immigrations happening throughout the world (i.e., North Africa towards UE, South America towards North America…etc.), governments are pushed towards accepting diverse groups and working with them to establish peace and prosperity (Opfinger, 2014). Diversity comes in many forms, for the purpose of this research, it is very important to identify the meaning of diversity. Considering personal characteristics, Triandis et al. (1994, p.772) defined diversity as “any attribute which may lead people to the perception that that person is different from me”. Other researchers such as Harrison et al. (1998) and Jackson et al. (1995) also identified diversity as “service-level characteristics”, attributes such as race and gender, or ‘deep-level characteristics’ such as attitude and values. In their research, Krishna et al. (2004) considered other dimensions of diversity, such as cultural, work experience, disability, education, career status, and language. Cunningham and Sagas (2004) categorised diversity into two groups of attributes: obvious factors such as ethnicity and less obvious factors such as experience. Both attributes can be used to establish similarities among workers, creating stronger relationships.

2

Diversity effect on group performance

The effect of diversity on businesses can be traced to the early 1980s (Dos Reis et al., 2007). One major influence on how diverse groups communicate is culture: Culture influences how individuals communicate as well as behave (Muir, 2007) and thus is important to consider when managing a diverse group. Researchers found mixed results when studying the effects of diversity on organisations. Table 1 gives a brief literature review of findings yielded by researchers offering advantages and disadvantages.

50 Table 1

L. Alnaji et al. Positive and negative effects of diversity

Diversity advantages

Diversity disadvantages

Richard et al. (2004) showed a positive relationship between gender diversity and financial performance.

Sacco and Schmitt (2005) found that gender diversity increased turn over.

Ethnic diversity among workers led to higher earnings and net profits. Diversity among managers positively affected return on investments and return on assets (Erhardt et al., 2003).

Diversity among managers and employees can lead to lower evaluations by superiors (Tsui and O’Reilly, 1989). Racial diversity leads to weaker psychological commitment toward organisation goal and therefore less desire to perform well.

Heterogeneous racial groups seem to perform better, indicating a relationship between racial diversity and performance (Harrison et al., 2002; Kirchmeyer and Cohen, 1992).

Riordan and Shore (1997) found that in a racially diversified group, minorities show low commitment to the group.

Hoffman and Maier (1961) found a strong relationship between diversity and quality of new ideas produced by the group.

Gender diversity increases emotional conflict, resulting in negative effects on performance (Hope Pelled, 1996).

Women showed more positive affection toward Having a diverse workforce does not guarantee work when they worked in an all-woman group a positive outcome (Jayne and Dipboye, 2004). (Chatman and O’ Reilly, 2004). In a study of 200 US companies, Shrader et al. (1997) found that having women managers in the company increased its financial performance.

Researchers showed that diverse groups based on race, gender, age, or tenure have a variety of problems such as communication breakdown, low cohesion, and high turnover (Milliken and Martins, 1996; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998).

Educational diversification among groups leads Alagna et al. (1982) found that with groups to improved response to challenges in the consisting of 50% gender diversity produced environment (Wiersema and Bantel, 1993). emotional conflict. Business managers find diversity key to their success as well as the success of their organisation (El Refae et al., 2014)

There is a negative relationship between diversity and economic outcomes such as investment, income growth (William and Levine, 1997; Rafael et al., 1999; Paolo, 1995; Montalvo and Reynal-Querol, 2005).

Regardless of whether diversity affects societies and organisations positively or negatively, the effect of diversity must be taken into consideration in all levels of a society (social and business). To help take full advantage of a diverse culture, companies are working to change perceptions of threat to opportunities by offering employees special programs (Drach-Zahavy and Erez, 2002; El-Refae et al., 2013). A survey of Fortune 1000 companies, conducted by the Human Resource Institute in 2001, showed that 96% of respondents provided diversity training on race, 88% on gender, 85% on ethnicity, and 65% on age (Jayne and Dipboye, 2004). Other organisations devoted many resources to diversity-related initiatives, including programs on diversity management, flexible work arrangements, and domestic-partner benefits, to retain a diverse workforce (Corporate Leadership Council, 2003).

Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies?

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Research study

3.1 Study objectives The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between social wellbeing and four forms of equity in secondary-school enrollment: tolerance for immigrants, religious views, minorities, and gender differences. Using the Social Progress Index, which collected data from 108 countries and is considered an index that measures the how much a country can meet the basic human needs for its citizens, we explored the link between the independent dependent variable, tolerance against the four dependent variables mentioned previously.

3.2 Research methodology In this study, we adopted an objectivist epistemological approach and a positivist theoretical perspective to test the relationship between social wellbeing and tolerance in different societies. The large sample size in this study (108 countries) and the nature of the tested variables made it difficult to adopt a constructionist epistemological approach to interpret the realities of each country. We assumed that worldwide realities have their own identity and exist on their own as objects, and that these independent social facts could be discovered using scientific methodologies (e.g., correlational study) and using appropriate research methods (e.g., statistical analysis). Thus, the nature of a research study dictates the appropriate epistemological approach, theoretical perspective, methodology, and methods. Quantitative analysis of secondary data eases the path for other researchers to repeat the same analysis and verify results. We used an explanatory correlational design to conduct this correlational study. This research design is suitable when the target of researchers is to test the degree of association between variables and to discern if variables can affect each other. In this study, the target was to see if changes in the wellbeing of societies, measured by the Social Progress Index (Social Progress Imperative, 2015) in various countries can be explained by changes in tolerance and diversity variables: tolerance for immigrants, religious views, minorities, and gender differences in secondary-school enrollment. We conducted four separate regressions to separately test the relationship of the dependent variable with each of the four independent variables.

3.3 Research hypothesis •

Hypothesis 1 H0 H1



No significant positive relationship exists between tolerance toward immigrants and the wellbeing of a society. A significant positive relationship exists between tolerance toward immigrants and the wellbeing of a society.

Hypothesis 2 H0 No significant positive relationship exists between religious tolerance and the wellbeing of the society.

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L. Alnaji et al. H1

A significant positive relationship exists between religious tolerance and the wellbeing of the society.



Hypothesis 3 H0 No significant negative relationship exists between discrimination and violence against minorities and the wellbeing of a society. H1 A significant negative relationship exists between discrimination and violence against minorities and the wellbeing of a society.



Hypothesis 4 H0 H1

No significant positive relationship exists between gender parity in secondary enrollment and the wellbeing of a society. A significant positive relationship exists between gender parity in secondary enrollment and the wellbeing of a society.

3.4 Dependent and independent variables In this study, the wellbeing of societies, measured by the Social Progress Index (Social Progress Imperative, 2015) is the dependent variable that correlates with four independent variables: tolerance for immigrants, religious view, minorities, and gender differences in secondary-school enrollment. The four independent variables were used as a measure of tolerance for diversity. Although other variables of tolerance might exist in different societies, we believe these four variables are good representatives of tolerance measures.

4

Results and analysis

We performed a regression analysis on data. Following are the results: Table 2

Regression

H01: regression summary output of tolerance for immigrants Multiple R

0.34

R-square

0.12

Adjusted R-square

0.11

Standard error

12.85

Observations

108 df

SS

MS

F

Significance F

1

2,329

2,329

14.1

0.0

Residual

106

17,492

165

Total

107

19,821

Regression

ANOVA

Coefficients

Standard error

t-stat

p-value

Lower Upper 95% 95%

Intercept

47.78

4.9

9.9

.0000

38

57.4

Tolerance for immigrants

29.65

7.91

3.8

.0003

14

45.3

Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies? Table 3

Regression

H02 test results: regression summary output for religious tolerance Multiple R

0.20

R-square

0.04

Adjusted R-square

0.03

Standard error

13.41

Observations

108 df

Regression

Significance F

4.3

0.04

775

775

19,047

180

Total

107

19,821 Standard error

t-stat

p-value

Lower Upper 95% 95%

Intercept

58

3,8177

15,176

.0000

50.4

65.5

Tolerance for immigrants

2.7

1,2893

2,0764

.0403

0.1

5.2

H03 test results: regression summary output for discrimination and violence against minorities Multiple R

0.65

R-square

0.42

Adjusted R-square

0.41

Standard error

10.42

Observations

108 df

SS

MS

F

Significance F

1

8,316

8316

76.6

0.0

Residual

106

11,506

109

Total

107

19,821

ANOVA Intercept Tolerance for immigrants

Regression

F

1

Regression

Table 5

MS

106

Coefficients

Regression

SS

Residual ANOVA

Table 4

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Coefficients

Standard error

t-stat

p-value

Lower Upper 95% 95%

92

3,1669

28,953

.0000

85.4

98

–4.4

0,4979

–8,753

.0000

–5.4

–3.4

H04 test results: regression summary output for gender parity in secondary enrolment Multiple R

0.49

R-square

0.24

Adjusted R-square

0.24

Standard error

11.91

Observations

0.49

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L. Alnaji et al.

Table 5

H04 test results: regression summary output for gender parity in secondary enrolment (continued) df Regression

SS

MS

F

Significance F

33.8

0.0

1

4,796

4796

Residual

106

15,025

142

Total

107

19,821

ANOVA Intercept Tolerance for immigrants

Coefficients

Standard error

t-stat

p-value

Lower Upper 95% 95%

17

8.4124

2.011

.0468

0.241

34

49.9

8.5848

5.817

.00

32.9

67

4.1 Discussion Looking at Table 2, a p-value of 0 indicates a significant relationship between societal wellbeing and tolerance to immigrants. Table 2 shows a significant positive relationship (p-value = .000) between the wellbeing of a society and tolerance to immigrants in that society. It also shows that 12% of changes in the wellbeing of society could be explained by changes in tolerance to immigrants. This aligns with the findings of several researchers who explored the benefits of diversity on social performance as well as on society as a whole (Dos Reis et al., 2007). With a p-value of 0, we reject H0 and accept H1 in Hypothesis 1 and conclude a significant relationship exists between societal wellbeing and tolerance toward immigrants. Looking at Table 3, we found a significant positive relationship between religious tolerance and the wellbeing of a society. With a p-value of 0.04, 3.9% of societal wellbeing is tied to countries tolerating the diverse religions of its citizens. Thus, we reject H0 and accept H1 in Hypothesis 2, concluding that a significant positive relationship exists between religious tolerance and the wellbeing of a society. In inspecting Table 4, we observed a p-value of 0.0, indicating a significant relationship between discrimination and violence against minorities and the wellbeing of societies. The relationship is negative, indicating that the less discrimination a society experiences, the more wellbeing its citizens experience. We therefore reject H0 and accept H1 in Hypothesis 3 and conclude that a significant negative relationship exists between discrimination and violence against minorities and the wellbeing of a society. Finally, in Table 5, and p-value of 0.0 indicates a positive relationship between gender parity in secondary-school enrollment and the wellbeing of a society. We therefore reject H0 and accept H1 in Hypothesis 4 and conclude that a significant positive relationship exists between gender parity in secondary-school enrollment and the wellbeing of a society.

5

Conclusions and future works

Society’s Prosperity is difficult to measure, but factors that support prosperity can be understood and even duplicated in order to build a successful model whether we are talking about an organisation or society. In this paper, we found a significant relationship

Can tolerance of diverse groups improve the wellbeing of societies?

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between the wellbeing of a society and tolerance towards diverse groups that exist within it. There are many factors that affect tolerance and can increase it or decrease it. Currently, with the case of thousands of families immigrating to Europe (legally or otherwise), would tolerance still be viable? Can countries continue to tolerate diversity even though too much diversity might have a negative effect on its resources? Some researchers noted that the relationship between diversity and wellbeing is a ‘U’ shaped relationship, which means too much diverse group affects a society negatively until the society ‘stabilises’ and all groups in it start working together. Even though so far, countries that tolerate diversity is prosperous, well managed and in some cases world leaders in many aspects, however, tolerance alone is not enough as noted by some researchers (Wise and Tschirhart, 2000). Researchers are now looking at stronger factors that better influence societies. Some factors such as positive force or the concept of Allophilia; introduced by Dr. Pittinsky, demonstrates how positive force brings astonishing values to the most diverse groups (Pittinsky, 2005). Currently, we go through a period where there is mass exodus from one location (troubled areas such as Libya, Syria, Iraq) into Europe. Future research should focus on the effect of this ‘forced diversity’ on both the Europe’s economics, society wellbeing, how this change is perceived by locals and even explore regulations (new or improved) governments are taking to ensure that such a change in population distribution is taken advantage of to improve its citizen’s wellbeing.

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Notes 1

This information can be found on the European Union’s main webpage: http://europa.eu/ about-eu/basic-information/symbols/motto/index_en.htm.

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