Ethnic diversity, communication and effectiveness in academic groups in Malaysia: Individual members' perceptions and experiences

A.Manaf, Aini Maznina (2011). Ethnic diversity, communication and effectiveness in academic groups in Malaysia: Individual members' perceptions and experiences PhD Thesis, School of Journalism and Communication, The University of Queensland.

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Author A.Manaf, Aini Maznina
Thesis Title Ethnic diversity, communication and effectiveness in academic groups in Malaysia: Individual members' perceptions and experiences
School, Centre or Institute School of Journalism and Communication
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Shuang Liu
Prof Michael Bromley
Total pages 270
Total colour pages 19
Total black and white pages 251
Language eng
Subjects 200105 Organisational, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
Abstract/Summary As organisations are becoming more ethnically diverse, ethnicity is one of the significant factors that influence communication in small group settings. This study investigates the experiences and perceptions of individual group members regarding how ethnic diversity influences the ways members of ethnically diverse groups in Malaysian academic institutions communicate and how it affects the effective functioning of the group. Much is known about the effects of ethnic diversity on communication in groups from previous studies using experiments; however, the present study differs from those studies as it looks at groups in real life. A unique contribution of this study to the existing literature is the in-depth exploration of individuals’ experience of working in ethnically diverse groups in academic institutions in the Malaysian context. In order to advance the research of group communication, this thesis examines both task and relational communication dimensions, through a focus on three main lines of enquiry into the influences of ethnic diversity on group communication and effectiveness, the factors which facilitate and inhibit group communication, and suggestions for improving group effectiveness. Based on the constructionist paradigm, self-categorisation and social identity theories are adopted to understand how individual members perceived the influences of ethnic diversity on communication in their groups. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews and an online survey were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The sample for the interviews was forty academics working in twenty-nine different research project groups at two public and two private universities. The sample for the survey was 131 academics. The findings of the study suggest that ethnic diversity was neither a challenge to task communication nor a threat to group effectiveness among academics in Malaysia. However, it created a challenge for relational communication, particularly in an informal context. In addition, individual members experienced positive and neutral effects of ethnic diversity in workgroups. The findings also suggest that individuals’ similarities and a supportive group climate contributed to the respondents’ positive reactions to communication effectiveness in ethnically diverse groups. Findings from this study throw light on our understanding of the ways that ethnic diversity influences group communication and group effectiveness, as experienced by group members working in Malaysian academic institutions. The knowledge and information developed in the study contribute to the existing body of literature and provide a broader understanding of group communication and group effectiveness, especially in the less researched Asian context. In practical applications, the findings of this study can be used by managers and employees of culturally diverse organisations, in general, and academic institutions in particular, as a guide to more effective functioning in workgroups.
Keyword academics
ethnic diversity
group communication
group effectiveness
individual members
Additional Notes 43, 75, 93, 98, 100, 101, 167, 172, 189, 261-270

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Created: Wed, 06 Jun 2012, 17:38:50 EST by Ms Aini A. Manaf on behalf of Library - Information Access Service