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The business of diversity: Strategies and structures in United States information technology businesses

Youlanda Michelle Gibbons, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Resource dependency arguments bring IT businesses and their strategic efforts to recruit, hire, train and retain women and minorities into the center of this study's analysis. In essence, organizations, like IT businesses, depend on their ability to control and solve external and internal resource dependencies (Pfeffer & Salancik 1978). In the case of IT businesses attempt to attract, develop and retain women and minority IT talent, this ability is dependent on the firm's link to the outside world. In this effort, IT businesses must interact with other organizations given the critical need for human resources. Hence, the environment is thus the critical factor in which IT businesses become dependent. Building on the works of Pfeffer and Salancik (1978) and DiMaggio and Powell (1983), considerable attention has been devoted to understanding organizational structures and behaviors and their responses to the environment in terms of resource dependencies. Grounded in institutionalists, interorganizationalists, neoinstitutionalists and bureaucratic control theorists' arguments, this dissertation provides evidence of four imperatives underlying the business of diversity : (1) enforcement imperative; (2) business imperative; (3) moral imperative and (4) pluralistic imperative. The multiple and distinctive imperatives determine, at least in part, whether and to what extent IT businesses adopt and implement strategies. Data collected for this study involved two phases. First, a mail survey of a random sample of 600 U.S. IT businesses stratified by employee sizes of equal proportion was conducted. The second phase of this study involved in-depth interviews with twenty-five human resources managers and executives focusing on factors that contribute to a firm's decision to implement a diversity strategy and structure as well as how they enter into and negotiate relationships with other organizations in order to obtain their diversity goals. Together, this multi-method approach provides data that predicts how environmental and organizational factors predict how IT businesses adopt and implement strategies and structures to recruit, hire, train and retain women and minority IT professionals.

Subject Area

Social structure|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Management|Labor relations|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Gibbons, Youlanda Michelle, "The business of diversity: Strategies and structures in United States information technology businesses" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096278.