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Int. J. of Human Resource Management 18:11 November 2007 2037– 2056

The good and the bad: the impact of diversity management on co-operative relationships

´ Stephanie Dameron and Olivier Joffre
Abstract This paper explores the consequences of cultural diversity on co-operative relationships. It postulates two different modes of co-operation: ‘community based co-operation’, based on theneed to belong, and ‘complementary co-operation’, which seeks to harness strategic resources. These modes are combined with six dimensions of cultural diversity to create a cross-analysis framework. This framework forms the basis of our analysis of the interaction between cultural diversity and co-operation. Counterintuitively, the study of France Telecom Mobile and Orange UK’s integration teamsuggests that cultural diversity has little influence on issues of identity involved in co-operation. However, it reveals a strong link between cultural diversity and strategic rationale. The findings suggest that cultural diversity should not be understood as differences between stable sets of values and norms, but rather as a way to explain interindividual difficulties. We then propose factors that arelikely to influence the impact of cultural diversity. Keywords Co-operation; cultural diversity; case study.

The impact of diversity management on co-operative relationships Organizations and groups are rarely homogeneous. Members of teams differ from each other in many important ways, such as age, seniority and gender. Traditionally, studies of subgroup relationships have focused on domesticdiversity issues (e.g. Allport, 1954). However, faced with the increasing inter-organizational collaboration of a globalized world, diversity management must address the confrontation of both national and organizational cultures, which we call ‘local cultures’. In joint ventures, cross-national mergers or even partnerships, cultural confrontation can affect co-operative relationships and may explainmany of the difficulties experienced within these organizational arrangements (Chowdhurry, 1992; Park and Ungson, 1997; Sirower, 1997). Alternatively, cultural diversity can also be a source of innovation (Adler et al., 1996) and a driving force for co-operative relationships. This paper seeks to throw light on this dichotomy by analysing the impact of diversity on co-operation. We built twodistinct frameworks by which to assess co-operative relationships (Dameron, 2002, 2004). One form of co-operation develops from a strategic behavioural
´ Stephanie Dameron, DRM-CREPA-UMR CNRS 7088, Research Center on Management and ´ ´ Organization, University Paris, Dauphine, Place du General de Lattre de Tassigny, 75775 Paris Cedex 16, France (e-mail:; Olivier Joffre,DRM-CREPA-UMR CNRS 7088, Paris Dauphine University and ESSCA, Graduate School of Management, (e-mail:
The International Journal of Human Resource Management ISSN 0958-5192 print/ISSN 1466-4399 online q 2007 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/09585190701639786

2038 The International Journal of Human Resource Mangement rationale, in order togain access to differentiated resources: we call it complementary co-operation. The other form is generated by an identity-based rationale and the search for membership in a community, which we define as community-based co-operation. This distinction helps to delineate the research question: how does cultural diversity affect these modes of co-operative relationship? Here, we elaborate atheoretical framework within which to study co-operative relationships in an inter-cultural context. First, we shall define the two co-operative relationship modes mentioned above. We shall then analyse cultural diversity with reference to the six culture dimensions we associate with the attributes of the two co-operative modes. This framework is applied to the case of the French –English team responsible...