The Value of Ethnic Diversity


Studies in Europe and the US have shown that areas and organisations with a highly diverse workforce are also innovative and productive. Ethnic diversity in particular is seen as an asset for developing a knowledge-based economy. Penang has increased its ethnic diversity, which is a positive sign for further economic growth.

Diversity is defined in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, cultural values and religious beliefs. We are living in a world of increasing diversity, in terms of the physical environment and technology, as well as in terms of social organisation, imagination, thoughts and constructions of reality. A complex array of theories and concepts has arisen to take account of these changes in our real world. Theories differ greatly as to whether diversity is a valuable good or detrimental to progress and social cohesion. Sociological systems theory (Niklas Luhmann), to cite just one influential tradition, assumes that increasing differentiation of social systems enhances their adaptive capacity to challenges ahead.

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