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Why the European Union is not Delivering. An Essay on the Role of Diversity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 May 2012

Arjen Van Witteloostuijn
Department of Management, Faculty of Applied Economics, University of Antwerp, Antwerp Centre of Evolutionary Demography (ACED), Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium. Email:


The European Union (EU) has suffered from fall-out recently. Clear cases in point were the anti-EU outcomes of the referenda in France and the Netherlands, as well as the messy process in response to the Euro crisis. More broadly, recent elections in many European countries have resulted in winning parties that advertise an explicit anti-EU sentiment, often linked to an equally explicit anti-immigrant stance. Apparently, in the eyes of many, the EU is not delivering – quite to the contrary. In this essay, insights from a variety of social sciences will be reviewed that may shed light on this issue, with a focus on the role of a multidimensional conception of diversity.

Citizenship, Bureaucracy and Entrepreneurship
Copyright © Academia Europaea 2012

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Notes and References

1. Of course, the rise of these nationalist movements across Europe cannot – and should not – only be explained with reference to anti-EU sentiments. The point I try to make here is that this anti-EU sentiment offers part of the explanation. In this essay's context, this claim suffices.Google Scholar
2. For the sake of the argument, below I will not refer to many other studies. For those interested, the four papers discussed here include long literature lists with references to many related and background studies.Google Scholar
3. This list seems to suggest that, although this essay's overall perspective is multidisciplinary, the study of the impact of diversity at different levels of analysis is not. Nothing could be more wrong. As will be clear from the discussion below, all studies that pass under review here are themselves multidisciplinary as well. However, by and large, this multidisciplinary perspective is developed after taking a specific monodiscipline as the steppingstone. Indeed, in doing so, other disciplines than the one referred to in the main text are taken on board, too – a prominent example being economics. To signal this, I included a secondary discipline in Table 1's overview, indicating with which other discipline the primary discipline is being cross-fertilised.Google Scholar
4.Harzing, A. W. K., Maznevski, M. and ten country collaborators (2002) The interaction between language and culture: a test of the cultural accommodation hypothesis in seven countries. Language and Intercultural Communication, 2, pp. 120139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
5.Akkermans, D. H. M., Harzing, A. W. K. and van Witteloostuijn, A. (2010) Cultural accommodation and language priming: competitive versus cooperative behavior in a prisoner's dilemma game. Management International Review, 50, pp. 559583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
6. In this discussion, as well as the one of the other three example studies, I do not present the statistical details, for the sake of brevity. For sure, all four studies apply advanced multivariate statistics to derive the results presented here, including relevant control variables and using the appropriate estimation techniques. Interested readers can consult the original sources for details. Suffice to say, in the context of an essay like this, that all the discussed results are significant at the standard minimum level of 0.1 or better.Google Scholar
7.Certo, S. T., Lester, R. H., Dalton, C. M. and Dalton, D.R. (2006) Top management teams strategy and financial performance: a meta-analytic examination. Journal of Management Studies, 43, pp. 813839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
8.Boone, C., van Olffen, W., van Witteloostuijn, A. and De Brabander, B. (2004) The genesis of top management team diversity: selective turnover within management teams in the Dutch newspaper publishing market in 1970-1994. Academy of Management Journal, 47, pp. 633656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
9.Alesina, A. and La Ferrara, E. (2005) Ethnic diversity and economic performance. Journal of Economic Literature, 45, 762800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Zwaan, M., Boone, C. and van Witteloostuijn, A. (2010) Does religious pluralism affect urban growth? Working paper, Antwerp: University of Antwerp/ACED.Google Scholar
11.Maltzman, F. and Shipman, C. R. (2008) Continuity, change, and the evolution of law. American Journal of Political Science, 52, pp. 252267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
12.van Witteloostuijn, A. and de Jong, G. (2010) An ecology of national rule birth: a longitudinal study of Dutch higher educational law, 1960-2004. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 20, 187213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar