Equal employment opportunity in a climate of managing diversity: an institutional study of personnel processes of the Pennsylvania State Police

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation studies how equal employment (EEO) programs changed ongoing personnel processes of a police organization. It uses an institutional approach of sensemaking, which treats personnel processes as interpretive systems to examine the effects of EEO on personnel processes and the idea of managing diversity.

The research employs the case study methodology to examine personnel processes of the Pennsylvania State: Police (PSP) . This organization has operated under a federally monitored affirmative action decree since 1974.

Findings confirm that EEO and affirmative action altered PSP personnel processes. Change was resisted, but nonetheless did occur slowly because of powerful and persistent constitutional/legal and political demands on the organization. This environment-organization interplay resulted in ideals of EEO and employment rights penetrating PSP personnel processes. In 1972 personnel processes reflected organizational characterizations to include unquestioned authority, seniority, and regimented structure, which clashed with EEO ideals. By 1993, EEO ideals of equality, equity, and fairness prevailed.

The implementation of EEO policies provided for a more representative workforce in police organization. As more minorities and women enter the organization, the need to manage diversity arises.

The data shows that managing diversity lacks the institutional imperative to bring about change to management and administrative behaviors as EEO did. If managing diversity becomes a desirable practice in the PSP, its institutions must incorporate its value of differences in light of EEO. This value would factor into setting goals, monitoring progress, and evaluating results of each employee. Theoretically, this practice would give the PSP the means to recognize differences when rewarding or remediating performance yet still honor constitutionally and politically mandated ideals of EEO.



sensemaking, institutionalization, equality