Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discern the legacies of social divisions, notably protracted social conflict on team members’ relations, collaborative interactions and ways of coping with such work-life reality. Design/methodology/approach – This study constitutes a pilot phase of a research on nationally and ethnically diverse nurses’ teams operating in medical centers. It used qualitative methodology: a semi-structured individual interviews with 12 nurses. Findings – The findings underscore the challenge of engaging diversity in mixed work teams operating in the shadow of protracted conflict. The results indicated inter-group biases, implicit discrimination and tensions due to the salience of social categorization and the faultline phenomenon. These tensions mount in crisis situations, such as violent incidents associated with the national conflict. The major coping pattern was directing the disagreements to a hidden sphere. The findings showed paucity of organizational level efforts to engage diversity and social divisions-related issues. In spite of the complexities associated with diverse workplaces, the nurses revealed high capability of maintaining cooperative interactions and effectively performing their healthcare tasks. Research limitations/implications – The current study represents a pilot phase of a larger research project. Subsequent stages will extend the sample size and use additional research instruments for data collection. Practical implications – Human resources managers need to address the organizational issues related to diversity and social divisions, including policy and training activities. Social implications – Engaging “otherness” remains a considerable challenge in diverse work setting, especially when team work constitutes the main work pattern. It should be faced by work organizations and social institutions. Originality/value – The study involves an innovative element as it attempts to elucidate the ramifications of diversity and inter-group tensions in “real-life” circumstances; namely, work setting in the context of a divided society. Most of the previous research examined such phenomena in the laboratory and/or on ad hoc groups.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 6, 2015