The Management Department
Department Seminar Series
Tuesday, May 14th 2019
Room LE CLUB at 10:00 am
Theme: “Without Inclusion, Racial Bias Blocks Learning”
Abstract: Racial diversity is often hailed as a boon to the performance of groups, organizations, and markets, but its alleged benefits have been slow to materialize. We study the role of inclusion: In diverse settings, are members of an ethnic majority reluctant to learn from members of a minority group? We answer in three studies, in which US-based White adults are asked to make an incentivized choice after observing a similar decision by two peers, who are identifiable only by their first names: either White- or Black-sounding. Unbeknown to the chooser, the peers always make better decisions, so their choices should be copied. However, we find that Whites are far less likely to learn from their Black peers compared to White peers (n=296). We suggest that the bias can be reversed if Whites observe that the Black peers repeatedly perform well (n=208) or when Whites are apprised in advance of the Black peers’ performance (n=252). To reap benefits, we conclude, diversity must be accompanied by informed inclusion. We discuss implications to attempts at racial and ethnic diversity in scientific, educational and other organizations. (Co-authored with Sheen Levine, University of Texas-Dallas, and Charlotte Reypens, University of Warwick).