Promovendus Raffie Petronilla

“Cultural dimensions of Human Resource Development”


Raffie Petronilla studeerde onderwijskunde aan de Universiteit van Utrecht. Hij is van Antilliaans-Nederlandse afkomst.

The cultural dimension of Human Resource Development

Dutch multicultural society is not only contested, it is also slowly being recognized that immigrants have reached a middle class level. The growing numbers of immigrant students and graduates in higher education, the advance in ethnic entrepreneurship, in professions like medical specialists, politics, in arts and more widely in the cultural sector prove their progress. Especially the second generation immigrants are catching up with the natives. Even though the speed of this social progress is different for the several ethnic groups, it is clear that this social mobility belongs to one of the less researched areas of the multicultural society.

This progress is also reflected in higher positions in large corporations. More corporates get convinced of the necessity to diversify their employees. It is generally accepted that the work performance of culturally diverse team is better. However, some immigrants find it hard to make progress in the company hierarchy. This phenomenon has been established by the women movement and documented as the glass ceiling. We observe both the advance of migrants as well as the impediments to their mobility. These different outcomes are insufficiently explained by conventional approaches emphasizing the development of human and social capital. In these approaches the cultural dimensions of the human resource development is largely neglected. Hence the central question in this research:
Which cultural aspects contribute to the upward social mobility of migrants?

The research is conducted in a large financial institution, the ING bank. The main objective of this research is to reveal the cultural aspects of the mobility process in a corporate company. Issues like ´the cultural elements acknowledged in the academic literature´, ´relations between these elements and human resource development policies´, ´cultural aspects and social mobility´ will be researched. The HR and diversity policy of the ING will be examined to formulate adjustments in order to utilize the skills of present talents. To that end, several interviews will be held with employees of the largest minority groups within the ING in the Netherlands: Turkish, Surinamese, Moroccan and Antillean along with the native Dutch. Besides these interviews, statistic analysis, questionnaires and literature study will be used as research techniques.

The relevance of this research is to generate new insights, thus optimizing the human resources in the commercial organization. By conducting this research within the ING, the corporation will definitely benefit from the outcomes. This study will yield the knowledge that companies need to stimulate upward mobility of minorities and thus utilize their social and cultural skills.