Diversity and diverse integration viewpoints into organizations are pertinent in a world of shifting demographic patterns and work practices. The challenge of implementing diversity in organizations is increased by the lack of clarification regarding the difference between functional and social diversity in the literature, which results in a lack of differentiation in organizational policies. This lack of clarification is reflected in theoretical research regarding diversity in the workforce and in pragmatic research regarding diversity. This research thematically analyzes the definitions of diversity in management literature to determine whether this differentiation is made in theoretical or practical discussions of diversity management.


The modern workforce is far more varied in its composition than it has been previously, due to demographic factors, such as immigration and economic factors like globalization (Christian, Porter and Moffitt, 2006). According to Christian, Porter and Moffitt (2006), the minority workforce in the United States is expected to rise from 16.5% in 2000 to an estimated 25% in 2050. In keeping with this increasing level of diversity inherent in the workforce, diversity management has been increasingly a matter of academic and practical interest, and the rate at which diversity management programs have been adopted has been steadily growing. However, this relationship has not been carefree, and a number of companies have reported problems with or outright failure of their diversity management approaches (Christian, Porter and Moffitt, 2006).

One of the challenges in implementing diversity in the organization is the confusion between functional diversity and types of non-functional diversity. Functional diversity, or diversity that leads to more effective function or innovation (Bunderson and Sutcliffe, 2002), is often the form of diversity intended in common workplace statements such as “we need to focus on diversity,” or “diversity is something we strive for.” However, in practice there are many forms of diversity that can be encountered in organizations, not all of which are related to improving organizational effectiveness, and some of which may be harmful. Many of these forms of diversity have been termed social diversity (Bunderson and Sutcliffe, 2002). What clear distinction can be made between functional diversity and social diversity in the organization, and how can this clear distinction be made?

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this research is to examine the definitions offered within the literature on diversity and explore the various constructions of diversity that are extant. It will consider how the definitions of diversity offered in the literature help or impede the formation of effective organizational innovation if applied. This paper uses a selection of case studies using a small number of previously published papers to address achieve these purposes. Ultimately, the goal of this paper is to identify where areas of improvement could be made in the existing literature regarding the discussion of diversity in order to improve its impact on the expected organizational outcomes.

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