Organization Development

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Doctor of Education in Organization Development (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Alla Heorhiadi; David Jamieson; Monica Oldham


As organizations move from diversity initiatives that solely strive to increase the racial or ethnic mix of individuals in the workplace to strategies of inclusion and cultural competence, building interpersonal coworker relationships across difference can help build inclusion. This study explores high quality coworker relationships (HQCR) across racial and/or ethnic differences. Using grounded theory research methodology, 27 participants were interviewed to explore the research question: What contributes to forming and sustaining a high quality relationship between coworkers of different racioethnic backgrounds?

A HQCR was defined by participants as 1) Mutual, 2) Knowing the whole person, 3) Working through disagreement, 4) Being fun/pleasurable, 5) Working together seamlessly, and 6) Helping to build other relationships. A variety of organizational factors and personal factors that helped form the relationship emerged. Eleven specific forming factors emerged, the last three appearing specific to relationships across racioethnic difference: 1) Displaying/receiving inclusive behaviors, 2) Connecting on common interests, 3) Participating in something significant together, 4) Sharing on a professional and personal level, 5) Developing empathy, 6) Establishing trust, 7) Communicating effectively, and 8) Showing interest in person‘s success, 9) Using intuition as a guide, 10) Assessing behaviors over time, and 11) Displaying genuine interest in difference. Seven turning points that helped grow the relationship emerged, with the last one appearing specific across racioethnic difference. These turning points were: 1) Sharing deeper personal information, 2) Pushing for growth, 3) Having a crucial conversation, 4) Reaching mutuality, 5) Growing more self aware, 6) Sharing a work success, and 7) Talking specifically about the racial and/or ethnic difference between them, either directly or indirectly. Finally nine sustaining factors, the last two appearing specific across racioethnic difference, were: 1) Making time to interact, 2) Showing appreciation for insights, 3) Welcoming to other groups, 4) Serving as confidant 5) Maintaining open and honest communication, 6) Sharing organizational information, and 7) Serving as a "place of rest" and enjoyment, 8) Embracing each other‘s differences and 9) Letting the guard down. These factors are depicted in a theoretical model. The study adds insights on diversity, inclusion and cultural competence strategies within organizations.


diversity and inclusion, grounded theory, high quality relationships, coworker relationships, high quality connections, positive organizational scholarship

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
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