Managing Implicit Bias with Transformational Conversation: A Qualitative Field Study of Social Identity Theory
Date of Award
Executive Doctorate in Business (EDB)
IT companies are spending millions of dollars a year on diversity training to try to increase their population of underrepresented minorities and women. Much of the current training centers on historical prejudice, shaming, and divisive diversity rhetoric. The research has shown this is not effective. In addition, a large part of the present training is focused solely on creating awareness of implicit bias, which I found in my research is not enough to evoke change. My findings show that a longer, interactive workshop following a process model was successful. By breaking down the elements of the process model into unfreeze, change, and refreeze, I was able to determine the role and impact of each element on change and to identify transformational conversation as a successful tool for shifting the perspectives of the participants and weakening implicit bias. Consistent with Contact Theory, it was through transformational conversation that participants suspended their own social identity and perspective and considered that of another participant, which fostered change. The final part of the model, refreeze, focused on participants making plans to sustain the learning. Through these findings, I have created a successful process model for change in implicit bias and introduced a new tool, transformational conversation. In addition, I have forwarded our thinking on how to employ shifts in implicit bias within a group of people with heterogeneous social identities.
Stephens, Kimberly, "Managing Implicit Bias with Transformational Conversation: A Qualitative Field Study of Social Identity Theory." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2018.