Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Mary Crossan


Decades of empirical work have produced mixed results and no proven direct link between diversity and performance at the group, business, or organizational level (Jehn & Bezrukova, 2004). Prior research has not yet explored the impact of a firm’s institutional context as an important influence on the relationship between diversity and firm performance. In this

thesis, I develop theoretical arguments on how an organizational field can weaken or amplify this relationship. I integrate conceptual arguments and empirical findings from the literatures on organizational diversity, institutional theory, and the Resource-Based View to offer a multilevel framework of organizational diversity and performance. My analysis is based on Employment Equity data for the time period 1997 to 2007 on the representation of Canada’s four designated groups that is published by the Government of Canada. I test my hypotheses using Hierarchical

Linear Modeling (HLM) to analyze Employment Equity data of 550 federally regulated private and public Canadian firms. These firms are grouped into four broad categories: banking, telecommunications, transportation, and other. Results show that categories differ significantly in their levels of firm diversity and the degree of conformity around these levels. My analysis supports arguments for a curvilinear relationship between organizational diversity and firm performance that is moderated by a field’s degree of conformity. My thesis highlights the importance of the interface between firm and field, and contributes to the strategy literature the

insight that a firm’s performance outcomes from organizational diversity depend on broader institutional factors.



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