Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Dunham Rowley


With the anticipated change in the U.S. labor force to a greater mix of races and ethnic groups, incorporating a wider range of people into the workforce has become a necessity. This is especially true for professions, such as Occupational Therapy (O.T.), that are experiencing staff shortages combined with a high growth rate. Currently, since the profession consists of 92% white women, several articles have been written on recruitment, but few have addressed how we are adapting the work environment to include people of diverse backgrounds. In this paper, an ethnographic approach was used to study how two O.T. departments managed their culturally diverse staff. The departments were studied using the theoretical frameworks of organizational culture and cultural sensitivity, focusing especially on how managers and staff perceived cultural diversity influencing their daily work. Observations, interviews, organizational documents, and demographic questionnaires were used to gather data. A summary of this information includes a description of the values, heroes, rituals and leadership of the departments, as well, as staff perceptions of cultural diversity and their cross-cultural skills. Common elements within the departments included: pluralistic leaders, strong organizational cultures committed to O.T. and quality care, social and team building activities (at work and outside of work), and a focus on individuals and the unique cultural skills and knowledge they possessed. Therapists who worked in these departments were open-minded, had a quest for learning, and had a self-confident professional and cultural identity, and a sense of humor.


Health and Medical Administration | Occupational Therapy