Context and culture: A phenomenological study of blue-collar workers in two multicultural workplaces

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Bora Pajo

Committee Member

John Nadalin

Committee Member

Kenneth Knox


Labor shortages in blue-collar occupations have become a significant challenge for firms throughout the United States. Naturally, as employers seek to address those shortages, one of the solutions has been the recruitment of immigrant workers. Multiple languages, mores and cultures within the diverse workforces present unique challenges within workplace cultures. Research suggests that intergroup contact between distinct groups, such as racial or ethnic groups, when certain conditions are in place, can have a positive impact on relationships between members of those groups. Additionally, diverse workplace management studies identify management practices that may enhance diverse workforce outcomes. This qualitative grounded theory study explores the question: How do blue-collar workers, both immigrant and U.S.-born working alongside one another, experience their workplace culture? It consists of responses from 15 participants to semi-structured interviews conducted via electronic communications technology (due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting direct researcher/participant contact). The study took place between the months of June and October of 2022. A new theory, the inverse contact outcome theory, was generated. The theory states that, contrary to what might be expected in diverse blue-collar workplaces, a) positive contact outcomes such as reduction of prejudice and conflict may result among same status blue-collar workers from diverse backgrounds despite the lack of institutionally supportive conditions whereas b) negative contact outcomes of prejudice and conflict may not be mitigated among same status blue-collar workers from diverse backgrounds despite the presence of institutionally supportive conditions. The study also revealed that diverse workforce management approaches that include customized socialization, enhanced communication, and status-based hierarchy mitigation, are essential to positive diverse workforce management practice.