Department of Management


Date of this Version



Published in Organizational Dynamics 34:4 (2005), pp. 346–360; doi: 10.1016/j.orgdyn.2005.08.003 Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Diversity is rapidly becoming an imperative business strategy in the global economy. Affirmative action is central to promoting a positive diversity climate. However, cultural, social, and legal differences around the world pose major challenges to multinational corporations (MNCs) in developing successful affirmative action plans (AAPs) at the global level. We present a model for global affirmative action plans that first identifies and examines the major environmental challenges faced by MNCs in implementing global affirmative action practices, as well as suggestions to combat these challenges. Second, the model delineates global affirmative action practices that rest on two building blocks—differentiation and integration. On the one hand, multinationals need to recognize the cultural, social, and legal differences between different countries around the world and customize affirmative action policies to each geographic context. On the other hand, they need to develop integration mechanisms to connect different affirmative action plans around the world by promoting information sharing and synergies. By effectively balancing differentiation and integration, MNCs can develop a “cosmopolitan mindset” of affirmative action that will enhance effectiveness in a global environment.