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In this paper, we will be discussing about stereotyping and social identity theory and its effect on Hy Dairies Inc., a Midwestern company which manufactures milk produces, whose sales has increased compared to the past due to the marketing campaign conducted by a women of color. Perceptual error, its causes and its type would also be discussed. The type of perceptual error, i.e. halo effect and generalization, which has affected the company, would also be evaluated. We would be discussing about the effects of misperception in the organization.
Furthermore, we will be discussing about the ways to minimize misperception in an organization by proper communication and awareness of top management.
Keywords: stereotyping, perception, misperception, communication
The latest sales figure and market volume of Hy Dairies, Inc, a large Midwestern milk products manufacturer, has shown significant increase in compared to the previous years, credible to their product gourmet ice cream.
Rochelle Beauport was the in charge of the marketing campaign of gourmet ice cream. She was one of the few women of color with similar job experience and a promising career at Hy Dairies.
The vice president of marketing, Syd Gilman was pleased by Beauport’s work and wanted to reward her by offering her the position of market research coordinator. He thought this offer was an opportunity for Beauport’s to broader experience in some high profile work to enhance her career, as he was in the same position few years ago. On the other hand, Beauport was shocked to hear about the offer that Gilman had to make.
They both perceived the offer of promotion in a different way. Gilman saw it as an opportunity of growth whereas Rochelle completely misunderstood the vice president and thought that she was being sidelined because of her gender and color. She thought that Gilman was giving her the “backroom job” of market research coordinator, trying to remove her from the job of brand management that directly affected the company’s profitability.
This could be a result of her past job where she experienced gender stereotype where her previous employer had made it quite clear that women could not make it in brand management. It can be seen that this is a case of misunderstanding due to stereotyping thoughts of Rochelle.
We will be discussion about the effect of stereotyping and social identity theory and its effect on Hy Dairies, Inc. and also about the perceptual error, its causes and types. We will be discussing, what type of perceptual error has affect Hy Dairies, Inc. Lastly, we will be finding the ways to solve the misperception that has been occurring in the case.
Stereotyping is a way of judging other people in fixed, unyielding terms (Pickering, 2015).For example: men are stronger than women, Asians are good at math, and people wearing spectacles are intelligent. Stereotype is based on our beliefs, thoughts and encounter of similar experience multiple times. Under various types of stereotyping gender stereotyping is mostly observed in most of the organizations. According to United Nations human rights, gender stereotyping is the generalized view of men and women based on their characteristics, attributes, and role in a social group. It is harmful as it restricts the ability of men’s and women’s capabilities to widen their abilities professionally.
The theory of social identity is a classic theory of social psychology that attempts to explain conflict between groups as a function of self – definitions based on groups (Islam, 2014).Social identity theory is based on categories such as age, gender, religion, race, and status. We also tend to place ourselves in one of those groups. Due to stereotyping and social identity theory people we start discriminating, and develop sense of favoritisms. As a result of which we do not accept that everyone as equal. For example: When we start our studies in a new university we become close with certain group of people, this is the consequence of our preference towards certain people among a bunch of people.
In the case of Hy Dairies, Inc., gender stereotyping was observed when Gilman, the vice president of the company had offered Rochelle a promotion as a market research coordinator. As both of them perceived the job offer in a completely different manner. Rochelle took the offer made by Gilman in a negative way by misinterpreting it by thinking that he was trying to sideline her due to her color and gender. This could be because of her past experience at her old job where she went through gender discrimination and also due to her preference of working in brand management. In contrast, Gilman had offered the job as he was very impressed with Rochelle’s work and saw it as an opportunity of growth for her, considering his past experience as he had also worked in that position few years ago. Clearly, Rochelle had misinterpreted the job offer made by Gilman as gender biasness. Lack of proper communication and one sided view was the core problem of this situation. As Rochelle did not consider speaking up against the decision make by Gilman and on the other hand Gilman had no idea what she actually wanted. If there had been a brief discussion about the job offer things would have been different, as doubts would have been cleared out.
According to D. Scott &Baydon “Perception is a selective processes as eye is capable of sensing much more data then the brain is capable of processing. Six factors which enhance selectivity are background, intensity, extensity, concreteness, contrast, velocity and impressivity.” Perceptual error occurs when an individual are not able to see the reality. Perceptual error are of various type; namely selective perception, halo effect, contrast effect, projection, impression and, generalizing (Robbins, 2001). It is caused by various factors such as not collecting enough information, allowing early information affect our judgment and by accepting stereotypes uncritically. These perceptual errors could be overcome by avoiding snap judgments, developing self-awareness and checking our attributions
In the case, generalization and halo effect was observed. Halo effect is caused when we judge or perceive an individual based on a single characteristic, such as appearance, behavior, or sociability. Halo effect has the deepest impact on perception of individual (Smiriti, 2018). Rochelle judged Gilman as a typical male in the top management who would not let black women get the promotion they desire and achievements rather sideline those women by offering a “backroom” job. In generalization, we tend to classify people and events into categories that we are familiar with, this helps us to simplify the complexity (Smiriti, 2018). This sometimes may result in wrong judgment. When Rochelle categorized Gilman as a man who thought women lacks capability to pursue a career in marketing due to her past experience with her former employer. As a result, based on her past experience she categorized Gilman even though she did not know him well and perceived the situation accordingly without even trying to understand the actual situation. Due to these perceptual errors there is a high chance that a conflict might occur.
Solution to minimize misperceptions in these types of situations in Hy Dairies, Inc.
Misperception is the system that produces a deviation between the actual state and the perceived state obtaining information of our surrounding through our senses (Akaishi & Arita, 2003). In an organization, this would result in a conflict inside as well as outside the organization, but for an organization to run smoothly these type of conflicts must be reduces. We must first know the main causes of the conflict in an organization, such as stereotyping and perceptual error. Then we must try to solve those problems.
Proper communication is one of the solutions to reduce misperception, as proper communication would help in free flow of information without any doubts. Making assumptions is the most common mistake we perform while communicating (Hurley Write, Inc., 2018), the result of this mistake would cause an argument in the company. Therefore, we must never assume anything and ask for clarification whenever necessary. In the case study, Rochelle did not try to confront about her doubts and misunderstandings to Gilman. This was the main problem seen which could have been easily solved with proper communication but instead Rochelle did not express about her feelings regarding the job offer. On the other hand, Gilman also did not consult about the offer he made, whether she was okay with the offer or not. This is a clear case of lack of proper communication.
The top level management must be aware about misperception happening in the company. They are the decision makers of the company, and therefore they can do a number of things to increase accuracy. They must be aware of the common misperception in their organization so that they would be able to avoid it or compensate for them. There is no formula that will eliminate misperception or tell what image is correct (Jervis, 1977). Therefore, they could develop policies, provide trainings, and discourage stereotyping thoughts, or stop discrimination. In the case, Gilman being the vice president of marketing at Hy Dairies, Inc. did not make any efforts to know about the perspective of Rochelle. This shows that he did what he thought was correct rather than thinking from the perspective of the employee. This problem occurred also because they did not know each other very well. The solution would be to conduct outing once in a while so that their employees do not hesitate to open up if any problem occurs.
The case study of Hy Dairies Inc. was relatable to the problem faced by various organizations. The case of stereotyping has been in the society for a long period of time which causes misperceptions. Rochelle had a stereotypical mindset based on her past experience which made her make a wrong choice by not speaking up with the vice president and keeping everything to herself which would make the situation even worst. She thought of her vice president as a person who believes in gender discrimination. But the vice president was unaware about the situation as he felt like he had made the right choice by offering the job which was also based on his past experience. The lack of communication was seen between the vice president and the employee, which was the major problem of the case. As a result of which, proper communication must be conducted without any hesitation in every organization so that peace and harmony would be maintained.
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