A Socioecological Approach to Relational Demography: How Relative Representation and Respectful Coworkers Affect Job Attitudes


Purpose: This paper advances a socioecological perspective toward understanding the relationship between demography and job attitudes by considering the joint effects of individual ethnicity and ethnic group relative representation—the degree to which an individual’s own demographic group is represented similarly in their organization and the community in which the organization is located. Design/Methodology/Approach: Hierarchical polynomial regression analyses of census and survey data from 57,000 employees of 142 hospitals in the United Kingdom suggest that ethnic group relative representation is related to ethnic minority employees’ job satisfaction and turnover intentions. Findings: An asymmetric pattern emerged wherein the effect of under-representation on turnover intentions was stronger than the effect of over-representation. Moreover, the effects of relative representation varied with respectful treatment by coworkers; relative representation had little effect on attitudes of employees who reported low levels of coworker respect but generally enhanced attitudes when respect was high. Originality/Value: This work points to the meaningful role that socioecological factors can play in what are typically considered to be intraorganizational phenomena, thereby highlighting the need for organizational research to assess relevant aspects of the communities in which organizations are embedded.

Publication Title

Journal of Business and Psychology