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Group dynamics and the construction of identities in Omani higher education: a case study of cultural diversity using a social identity approach

Group dynamics and the construction of identities in Omani higher education: a case study of cultural diversity using a social identity approach
Group dynamics and the construction of identities in Omani higher education: a case study of cultural diversity using a social identity approach
In Oman, the organisational context of higher education is characterised by two disconnects relative to the societal context. The academic context is culturally diverse and uses English as a medium of instruction while the societal context is largely culturally homogenous and uses Arabic as the official language. The cultural diversity of staff in the academic context renders Omanis a proportional minority among other minorities. From a social identity perspective, such a composition could represent a seed for categorisation that hinders social identity construction which mediates the positive effects of diversity.

This study aims to understand how identities are constructed in such a context and how cultural diversity affects group dynamics and processes through investigating how prototype is constructed and how effective prototype-based social identity is. The study also looks at the effectiveness of leadership, as practised at the microgroup level, in managing a collective identity. It employs a qualitative case study design implemented in an English Department using sixteen interviews, eight meeting observations, document analysis and field notes.

The findings reveal that identities within this context are shaped by the intersectionality of nationality, language, mode of employment, and professional identity. The position of an individual along these trajectories decides on the extent to which they could relate to the wider organisational context that sets the group prototype. These intersectionalities create structures within the group that manifest in relation to different group processes and define advantages and disadvantages. The prototype is seen as centrally prescribed rather than based on the English Department group and Omanis are generally seen as more prototypical. Social identity at the level of the Department is hampered by curriculum centralisation and by the effects of diversity within the group. The effectiveness of leadership in managing a collective identity is restricted by the lack of authority at the micro level of leadership. Alternatively, effective leadership is seen as one that is individual oriented.

The study argues that collective identity construction is a function of all levels of leadership in the higher education hierarchical system. It highlights the need for a clear organisational perspective on managing cultural diversity in higher education; one that perceives diversity as an asset and as a means for building an intellectual capital.
University of Southampton
Al Muqarshi, Amal Saleh
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Al Muqarshi, Amal Saleh
ff816bdf-a91f-4715-961b-b127cb34a914
Kelly, Anthony
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Kaparou, Maria
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Al Muqarshi, Amal Saleh (2018) Group dynamics and the construction of identities in Omani higher education: a case study of cultural diversity using a social identity approach. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 353pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

In Oman, the organisational context of higher education is characterised by two disconnects relative to the societal context. The academic context is culturally diverse and uses English as a medium of instruction while the societal context is largely culturally homogenous and uses Arabic as the official language. The cultural diversity of staff in the academic context renders Omanis a proportional minority among other minorities. From a social identity perspective, such a composition could represent a seed for categorisation that hinders social identity construction which mediates the positive effects of diversity.

This study aims to understand how identities are constructed in such a context and how cultural diversity affects group dynamics and processes through investigating how prototype is constructed and how effective prototype-based social identity is. The study also looks at the effectiveness of leadership, as practised at the microgroup level, in managing a collective identity. It employs a qualitative case study design implemented in an English Department using sixteen interviews, eight meeting observations, document analysis and field notes.

The findings reveal that identities within this context are shaped by the intersectionality of nationality, language, mode of employment, and professional identity. The position of an individual along these trajectories decides on the extent to which they could relate to the wider organisational context that sets the group prototype. These intersectionalities create structures within the group that manifest in relation to different group processes and define advantages and disadvantages. The prototype is seen as centrally prescribed rather than based on the English Department group and Omanis are generally seen as more prototypical. Social identity at the level of the Department is hampered by curriculum centralisation and by the effects of diversity within the group. The effectiveness of leadership in managing a collective identity is restricted by the lack of authority at the micro level of leadership. Alternatively, effective leadership is seen as one that is individual oriented.

The study argues that collective identity construction is a function of all levels of leadership in the higher education hierarchical system. It highlights the need for a clear organisational perspective on managing cultural diversity in higher education; one that perceives diversity as an asset and as a means for building an intellectual capital.

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Group dynamics and the construction of identities in Omani higher education: a case study of cultural diversity using a social identity approach - Version of Record
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Published date: October 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 427144
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/427144
PURE UUID: 2ff7cf92-95ee-45ec-b5db-951863977e1c

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Date deposited: 03 Jan 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Mar 2019 17:42

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Contributors

Author: Amal Saleh Al Muqarshi
Thesis advisor: Anthony Kelly
Thesis advisor: Maria Kaparou

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