Title: Othering diversity – a Levinasian analysis of diversity management

Authors: Sara Louise Muhr

Addresses: Department of Business Administration, Lund University, PO Box 7080, 220 07 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: Several studies have suggested both creative advantages and disadvantages of diversity. Much of this discrepancy can be explained by a deeper conceptual ambiguity. Levinasian ethics emphasises the Other as infinitely different. This article uses Levinasian ethics to investigate the distinction between categorisable differences and the multiplicity of otherness. In this process of |othering| diversity, the ambiguity in the field is unravelled, as creativity in organisations depends not on |managing| differences among people but on |respecting| otherness within them. The first destroys creativity by reducing diversity to sameness. The latter is the creative aspect of diversity. Diversity management must be |othered| and taken beyond the obvious categorisation of differences. That is, beyond management, and back to the Other, who resists being managed. This movement toward otherness is exemplified by a story from the making of South African justice policy: a story of an ethical encounter between two very different groups.

Keywords: creativity; differences; diversity management; Emmanuel Levinas; ethics; otherness; South Africa; justice policy; workforce diversity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2008.021273

International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 2008 Vol.3 No.2, pp.176 - 189

Available online: 14 Nov 2008 *

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