Individuals in the Diverse Workplace

The role of personality 1

Authored by: Jan Pieter van Oudenhoven , Karen van der Zee , Paul B. Paulus

Current Issues in Work and Organizational Psychology

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138604940
eBook ISBN: 9780429468339
Adobe ISBN:


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Nations across the world are increasingly interconnected. The world is becoming our homeland. As a result, at work, at school, and in their private lives, individuals have to be able to deal effectively with cultural differences. Dealing effectively with cultural differences will also be referred to as “intercultural success” in this chapter. Individual differences seem to be an important predictor of how successful individuals are in actually dealing with intercultural situations (e.g. Huang, Chi, & Lawler, 2005; Shaffer, Harrison, Gregersen, Black, & Ferzandi, 2006). Personality not only determines the perception of intercultural situations as threatening or not, but it also influences whether individuals are capable of constructive behavioral reactions to such situations (Connor-Smith & Flachsbart, 2007). In this chapter we discuss the role of individual differences for effectiveness in intercultural encounters at work. We will focus on three categories of individual difference variables, namely intercultural traits, attachment styles, and attitudes towards diversity. The three categories represent different theoretical and empirical paradigms (see also Van der Zee & Van Oudenhoven, in press). Intercultural traits are connected to personality psychology and the Big Five area of research, in particular. Attachment styles refer to a robust concept from developmental psychology, which also promises to be an interesting predictor of adults’ well-being in intercultural situations. Finally, attitudes towards diversity at work are obviously related to organizational psychology.

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