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A New Kind of Public Service Professional: Possessing Cultural Competency, Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills

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This chapter discusses the importance of moving diversity management’s use of cultural competency in the delivery of public programs and public agency services from the conceptual and unconnected to a legitimate theoretical framework and model.
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  Cultural Competency for Public Administrators  itors  rist n   Norman Major  n  Susan I Gooden §VLE  h rpe Armonk, New York London,England  Copyright © 2012 by ME. Shame. Inc. All rightsreserved. No part olthis hook mayhe reproduced in any loon without ‘vrihlen permission from the publisher. ME. Sharpe, Inc.. SI) Business Park Drive,Armonk, New York 10504. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Puhlkation iota Cultural competency for public administrators / ediled by Kristen A. Norman-Major and Susan T. Gooden. p. cm. Includes bibliographicalreferences and index. ISBN 978-0-7656-2676-9 hardcover alk. paper)—ISHN 978-0.7656-2677-6  phk. alk. paper) Public administration—Socialaspects—United States. 2. Executiveability—United Stales. I. Norman-Major. Kristen A. II. Goodco, Susan.iK421.CK 2012 353.70973—dc232011030532 Printed in the United States olAmerica Thepaperused in this publication meets the minimumrequirements of AmericanNational Slandard for InformationSciencesPermanence of Paper for PrintedLibrary Maicrials. ANSI Z39.48-1984. IBT c) 10 9 8 76 5 4 3 2   IBT p) It) 9 8 76 5 4 3 2      New Kind of PublicService Professional Possessing  ultural  ompetency  wareness  Knowledge nd Skills MITCHELL F. RICE AND AUDREY L. MATHEWS Demographic changes in the UnitedStates can be largely attributed to growth in the Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and other minority populations  see U.S. Census Bureau 2000, 2005a.2005b . These demographic changes are impactingAmerican society in many ways. Ongoingresearch.initiated in the late l980s and   990s, documented the effects of demographicchanges in workplaces  see.e.g., Johnston and Parker 1987: Morrison and Glinow 1990 . More recent research   raising questions about demographicchanges and the delivery of public programs and public services  Rice 2008,2010 . Presently,due to demographicchanges, there   a much different mix of individuals—consumers,customers, clients, and workers—incommunities all across the UnitedStates thanthere wastwodecades ago. Now an encounter betweenindividuals, clients, constituents, or servicerecipients and the professionals of publicserviceagencies are often exchanges involvingdifferentcul tural backgrounds, beliefs,practices, and languages Rice2010 . This   tosay that public agency service deliveryprofessionals are typically from one culture andthe servicerecipients orclients are from orclosely connected to or strongly influenced by another culture. These demographic changesprovided a vision and agenda for the workplace diversity movement initiated by scholars suchas Taylor Coxand StaceyBlake 1991 and Roosevelt Thomas  1991 . Research indicates that organizations that manage diversity well show a reduc tion in workforce turnover, an increase in productivity  an edge in attracting talentedwomen and minorities, and publicagencies providing more effective programs and service delivery  Mathews 2010 . In spite of recessions, collapses, and reductions in the size and operations of major organizations and publicagencies and their work- forces, the impact of the demographic changes are continuing. The resultingeffects and affects forthe organizations and public agencies thatmanagediversity wellare 19  20 CHAPTER 2 creative problemsolving,innovation, and improvements in the organizations’abilities to adapt to other inevitable forces of change. Thebottom line forthese organizations and public agencies is the successful and effective implementation and delivery ofprograms and services to communitiesofunderserved clients and/or clients with dif ferentcultural backgrounds. beliefs, practices, and languages. It appears that organizations that have effectively usedthe framework and lenses of cultural competency to manage the demographicchanges of clients with their organiza tionshaveimproved the quality and delivery of programs and services to constituents and clients.There are numeroussuccessful examples in both the business and public sectors, such as Hewlett Packard, Ford MotorCompany,HarvardPilgrimHeallhcare, andIBMfrom the business sector and the City of Laredo, Texas; Salinas,CaliforniaPoliceDepartment; theU.S. Department of Defense andthe Center forthe Advanced Study of Language; the City of Phoenix,Arizona andthe Seattle,WashingtonPoliceDepartment fromthe publicsector  seeRice 2008). These organizations thusfortify by example the answer to the questionwhether public organizations can becomeculturally competent  Cox and Blake 1991; Mathews 2010; Rice2010; and Thomas 1991). Thecommonthreadcertifying that these multicultural/cultural organizations are culturally competent is a diversitymanagementorientationbuilt on the strengths and perspectives of beliefsthatindividuals from differentcultures can makepositive contributions to the organization or public agency.The objective is to establish culturallyappropriate internal and externalprogram and servicedeliverystrategies and approaches.The cultural competency theoreticalframework’s underpinnings include elements from many theories or permutations-amalgamations, definitiveproperties, relationship dif ferentials, knowledgederivatives, and applied practice outcomes and effects.This chapter discusses the importance of movingdiversity management’s use of cultural competency in the delivery of public programs and publicagencyservices fromthe conceptual and unconnected to a legitimatetheoreticalframework and model. The chapter also discusses the need for a focus on cultural competency in public administration higher education programs.The chapter continues by stressing why cultural competency in public administration highereducation programs is relevant to the authors’ contention thatcalls for a new kind of public agency servicedelivery professional. Specifically, this chapter calls for a new kind of public agency service professional who possessesexplicit cultural competency awareness, knowledge, and skills to workwith racial/ethnic and cultural/linguistic groups in public administration and in the publicagency service deliveryprocess. Thechapter concludes by noting the need for a cultural competency modelthat would integrate and transform culturalawareness and cultural knowledge about individuals and groups into culturally specific skills, practices, standards, and policies to increase the quality and effectiveness of publicagency services and programs. A NEW CULTURAL COMPETENCYBEHAVIOR IN THEPRACTICE OFPUBLIC ADMINISTRATION As prescribed by Strauss and Corbin 1990). theoreticalsampling and testing of exist ing literature and models areused to buttress and expand on the theoretical modeling      A NEW KIND OF PUBLIC SERVICE PROFESSIONAL 21 of cultural competency for public administration and publicagencyservice delivery.Thetheory buildinginitiated by Bailey 2005), continued by Rice 2010), and reex amined by Mathews 2010) sets theFoundationfor this chapter. To reiterate, accord ing to Mathews in “Diversity Management and Cultural Competency”  2010), as the workplace diversity movement’s framework and lenses moved intothe lastdecade of the twentiethcentury. the Focus of the movement was expanded by the notions of multiculturalism and core cultural competencies. Thetheoretical framework for this emerging model’s foundation has its srcin in organizationculture and behavior re search conducted by social and behavioral scientists and appliedpractices in both the privatesector and in thesocial sciences  Mathews 1999,2002). Rice 2010) examined and addressed the centralissues and questions For public administration researchers and scholars, and a summary of that discussion is presented herein.Cultural compe tency in public programs and public agency service delivery has arrived at cultural pmficwncv when the agency, its professionals. and staffs understand and effectively respond to the challenge and opportunity posed by the presence ofsocioculturaldiversity in a definedsocialsystem. Rice  2008, 24—26) proffersthat organizations have an obligation to modify their administration servicedelivery strategies and approaches to encompass a developmentprocess that leads 10 culturalproficiency. Modifications such as recruitment and communication represent “surfacestructure” or “first cut” changes”  see Kumpfer et a). 2002,242).One of thefirst steps to take in moving toward cultural competency in a public agency orpublic program is to makepublic servicesprogramming and public ser vices delivery visible and accessible by translating program materials and providing the program in the primary client’s language—sometimes known as a translated program  see Cheng Gorman 1996; Cheng Gorman and Balter 1997). Thiswould include translating a publicagency’s program and service delivery literature into the language of the target population to increase awareness that services are available. Also, awareness and visibility are increased by modifyingrecruitment strategies, such as placingradio ads on the Spanishradio stationsor in Spanishor other specific lan guage newspapers. Except for the different language, the translated program remains essentially unchanged fromthe srcinal program thatwas not culturally modified. Although language translation is an importantmodification, translatedmaterialsalone are not sufficient to make a publicagency programculturally competent and culturally effective  ChengGorman 1996; Cheng Gorman and BaIter 1997). Cultural competency also involves a public agency’soperation ridding itself of cultural discomforts orcultural discontinuities  Uttal2006).For example, attendance and participation in a health education workshop are more effective if culturally rel evant activities, terms, and lessons thatare meaningful to the participants areused. Without these adaptations, the workshop may fail to convey the knowledge it is try ing to impart.Cultural discomforts created by strangeexamples will also undermine the retentionof participants and evenpossibly culturally offend participants. Some programs thatserve racial ethnicpopulations are beginning to acknowledge thattheir effectiveness may also depend on taking a more familistic approach, such as bring ing the wholefamily into a workshop or to a counseling session  Malley-Morrison and Hines2004). Other programs have found it effective to recruit and retainLatino
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