Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ilsley, Paul J.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Diversity in the workplace--United States; Universities and colleges--United States--Employees


This study is a comprehensive qualitative analysis of diversity as a socioeconomic force. Just what is diversity? Some say diversity is basic to the progress of civilization, a fundamental aspect of human existence. If diversity is such a defining characteristic of the human experience and society, then it stands to reason that it is also a basic feature of all complex organizations, such as institutions of higher education. The primary purpose of this investigation is to demonstrate that diversity is a fundamental socioeconomic force. As such, diversity is a foundational aspect of human capital and organizational performance. The concept of diversity capital is introduced as a means to describe these relationships. In support of this thesis, six thematic areas are progressively and cumulatively addressed, leading to an appreciation of diversity as a strategic human resource. First, the complexity of diversity is considered through the process of describing an appropriate research methodology and perspective. Second, the challenging issue of definition is investigated, leading to a contextually relevant description of diversity that is as thorough and comprehensive as possible. Third, three paradigms (compliance, social justice, and strategic performance), which demonstrate evolving management practices and organizational perspectives on diversity, are developed as a conceptual base and analytical tool. Fourth, the nature of diversity as a human resource is considered, resulting in the recognition of diversity capital as a fundamental form of human capital. Fifth, human resource development, organizational development, and human resource management are considered as integral methods for organizations to engage diversity as a strategic resource and competitive advantage, leading to a consideration of “best practices.” Finally, the sector of higher education is specifically considered as a context in which diversity is critical in relation to career preparation and socioeconomic progress. The study concludes with a series of recommendations concerning diversity and administrative practices in higher education. The research approach was phenomenological and ethnographic. An extensive literature review was conducted, 14 key stakeholders were interviewed, policies were analyzed, and pertinent court decisions inspected. Focus groups validated and confirmed the central themes and conclusions.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [200]-218)


x, 229 pages




Northern Illinois University

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