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Working in Interracial Vertical Dyads in Social Welfare Nonprofit Organizations: The Experience of Subordinates Open Access

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AbstractThis study explored the lived experience of subordinates in interracial supervisor-subordinate dyadic working relationships in nonprofit social welfare organizations. Although contemporary leadership theories explore leaders' traits, characteristics, skills, competencies of, and the relationship between leaders and followers, there is a dearth of empirical research that explores how followers experience racial differences with their leaders in hierarchical vertical dyadic working relationships in nonprofit social welfare organizations. This study provides insights toward improving the social capital generated from these dyadic working relationships, in the context of the organization and the community it serves. The essence of subordinates' lived working relationship experience that emerged from the findings of this study indicates that subordinates will experience their racially-dissimilar supervisor based on the perceived influence that the supervisor's race has on the relationship. In other words, racial dissimilarity between subordinates and their supervisor influences the subordinate's perception of his or her working relationship with the supervisor, when the racial difference is perceived by the subordinate as an influence on the supervisor's behavior toward the subordinate. The following four aspects of the lived interracial working relationship experience characterize the essence of the subordinates' experience: (1) subordinates make meaning of race differently, (2) the organization, or job, and/or peers influence the interracial working relationship between the supervisors and subordinates, (3) the salience of racial dissimilarity is determined by subordinates' perception of its impact on the supervisor's relational behaviors, and (4) subordinates assess the quality of the working relationship based on perceptions of his or her supervisor's relational behaviors in light of the subordinate's expectations. The understanding of the essence of the lived interracial working relationship has significant implications for practice that include implementing new, or enhancing existing approaches and strategies aimed to ensure effective and efficient interracial supervisor-subordinate dyadic working relationships that will allow for positive relational and organizational outcomes. The implications for research extend the existing body of knowledge with regard to influencers on interracial supervisor-subordinate working relationships by conducting an in-depth exploration of interracial hierarchical dyadic relationships that has not been sufficiently examined before.

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