Speaking the language of the bottom-line: The metaphor of "managing diversity"

Erika L. Kirby, Lynn M. Harter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study explores the metaphor of managing diversity and its related discourses that dominate current business communication about the changing workforce. We examine the language employed in practitioner-oriented texts and consultant websites on diversity. We first illustrate the characteristics of the managerial metaphor, including the emphasis on achieving competitive advantage and a "quick-fix" orientation toward improving managerial competencies regarding diversity. We then analyze the implications of the managerial metaphor in terms of (a) whose interests are emphasized by the metaphor, (b) whose interests are (potentially) marginalized by the metaphor, (c) how the metaphor system relates to power and economic interests, (d) how different metaphors present alternative positions, and (e) implications for business communication. We contend that language that constitutes individuals as resources emphasizes managerial and economic interests and potentially marginalizes human and ethical aspects of diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-49
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Business Communication
Volume40
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

Fingerprint

Managing diversity
Language
Economics
Business communication
Managerial competencies
Web sites
Workforce
Resources
Consultants
Discourse
Competitive advantage

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Speaking the language of the bottom-line : The metaphor of "managing diversity". / Kirby, Erika L.; Harter, Lynn M.

In: Journal of Business Communication, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2003, p. 28-49.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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