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Title: Workplace diversity and European enlargement : a qualitative study within the international civil service
Author: Gavin, Fiona
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 2411
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2012
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The European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Europe (CoE) are two internationally renowned organisations sharing a common goal of progressing human rights action and social cohesion within their respective member states. At the point of data collection (early 2007) both organisations were undergoing a period of significant change. Various Southern and Eastern European nations had been given their first opportunity to participate in the official European bodies thus increasing the member states of the EP to 25 and the CoE to 46. Access to the large secretariats of these organisations provided a unique opportunity to explore the organizational and individual implications of European Enlargement amongst employees from the widest possible range of European nations. With a firm grounding in the Diversity Management literature, this research also examines how the public discourse from official representatives of the EP and CoE on the topic of European Enlargement relates to individual and collective experiences within the organisation's own workforce. The impact of European Enlargement on day-to-day workplace experiences of employees within the secretariats was explored through two studies that were sequentially linked. The first study involved semi-structured interviews with key Human Resource personnel in each organisation (n = 20). The interview data was subjected to thematic analysis and the emergent themes were used to form the basis of the questions for the second study, which consisted of 22 focus groups (n = 88). Thematic analysis was again used to analyse the data, and a matrix analysis indicated that there were differences in experiences according to employees' gender, European region of origin and level within the organizational hierarchy. There were also differences between the two organizations. A third study involved the analysis of press articles on the topic of European Enlargement written by representatives of each organization; these were selected from the same time period as the interview and focus group data collection phases. The underlying assumptions and values about European Enlargement were explored through a critical discourse analysis of these texts. Discourses identified included: a) a discourse of power and subordination in which the position of the supranational organisations is assumed to be a part of the 'natural' order; b) a discourse of difference which betrays the assumption that 'west-is-best' and that inclusion is commensurate with dissolving rather than valuing difference and c) a discourse of paternalism in which the CoE and the EU are conceptualized as 'families', with Member States positioned as offspring who need to be kept under control by their authoritarian fathers, the institutional authorities. A comparison of the way in which the discourses identified were reflected in the organizational experiences related in studies 1 and 2 revealed that there was a high degree of overlap between the external discourse and internal experiences, though some notable differences were also identified. It is clear that the findings have major organizational and individual implications. Firstly, a division in women's equality agenda is indicated; whilst Western women press for more equality initiatives and Eastern women argue for fewer, the competing needs of these two groups are not going to be simultaneously met. Secondly, competition is created between men, with Eastern men aspiring to reach the envious position enjoyed by Western men. Furthermore, the backlash against gender equality initiatives, previously seen in the UK and other western nations in the 1980s, is given a new, Eastern European voice. It is also apparent that the content of an organizations publicly available discourse may well impact on employees' experiences within that organization. This leads to the conclusion that organizations have a responsibility to explore the assumptions and values that they are consciously and unconsciously promoting, not only for the benefit of the wider public but for the wellbeing of their own employees.
Supervisor: Cassell, Catherine; Rubery, Jill Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: workplace diversity ; European Enlargement ; discourse ; civil service