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Original scientific paper

Ethnicity in management studies: to ask or not to ask, that is the question

Gillian Warner-Søderholm orcid id ; University of South-Eastern Norway, Business School
Giedrė Blažytė ; Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences and Diversity Development Group,
Inga Minelgaite orcid id ; University of Iceland, School of Business
Romie Frederick Littrell orcid id ; National Research University, Higher School of Economics

Full text: english pdf 466 Kb

page 41-59

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Many global changes in the past three decades pose new challenges for contemporary management, including the perception of ethnicity by individuals in different geographic entities. In the European Union (E.U.), Central and Eastern Europe, and Lithuania in particular, ethnicity and social identity are challenged by contemporary political, business, and social life, especially after the dissolution of the USSR and the restoration of independence of nations. The purpose of this study is twofold. First, to provide empirical evidence that issues of ethnicity matter at different levels in an organizational context in this six-country study. Second, we contribute to the body of knowledge in management and social science research on demographic survey items such as ethnicity. We contribute to changing approaches to the logic of specific survey items and shed new light on the response rate challenges and fatigue that can weaken empirical studies and stagnate the implementation of new knowledge. Findings suggest that in more homogeneous societies or societies facing domestic unrest, the ethnicity question may be perceived as unexpected, taboo, discriminatory, or confusing. This uncertainty among respondents can lead to a high dropout rate in research. We provide six specific recommendations for future research designs to address this challenge.


ethnicity; culture; focus group studies; contemporary management

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