The black manager in corporate america and what it takes to become successful by

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Howard E. Collier

MSM 99

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Science in Management





The topic of the Black Manager “making it” in corporate America is an ongoing concern for blacks throughout International Engine Company, as well as for other black managers throughout various industries in both the public and private sectors of business.

This issue has become increasingly important to black managers throughout International Engine Company and other industries throughout corporate America, as blacks have gradually begun to advance into the upper levels of many organizational structures. As blacks have become more successful at advancing throughout the corporate organizational structure, they have begun to seek even higher positions and find it increasingly difficult to attain them. Because of this, questions arise regarding what it actually takes to “make it” in corporate America. Blacks and other minorities deal with a host of common problems at all levels of organizations in corporate America. As we move into the Twenty-first Century the American work force will continue to become more diverse. Managers of corporations must learn and develop alternative techniques to manage their employees and utilize them to their full potential. Blacks and other minorities, their managers and their subordinates will have to develop the types of relationships that will maximize the output from each individual.

Different racial and ethnic groups bring the potential of adding value to corporations and organizations. By recognizing the facts that people in general can add value to an organization, and ethnic groups by definition represent differences in cultural experiences, it becomes apparent that, if viewed and received positively, these very differences in attitudes, skills, emotional mindsets, paradigms could be beneficial to the corporation. This accumulation of diverse experiences, which equates to added value, apart from education or generalized mainstream experiences, has not been accepted as potentially beneficial to organizations on a broad scale. Minorities deal with the same socialization process in corporations as the white male, which for the most part is a necessary step regardless of ethnic background. When blacks and other minorities are forced and taught to talk, behave, think and act just like members of the dominant white male culture they lose their opportunity to employ their added value to a situation. This situation is detrimental to both the individual and the organization. Blacks and minorities cannot produce to their maximum potential as long as they are managed using the standard management styles and techniques that were designed specifically for white males.

Purpose of the Study

The black manager is constantly forced to overcome obstacles that white corporate America imposes upon them and they must find ways to counter these affects if they have intentions on moving into the upper most ranks of the corporate America of today.

As a black manager within the International Engine Corporation organizational structure, it is very difficult in many instances to manage hourly personnel throughout the organization. It is also often uncomfortable for these black managers to interact with many of their white counterparts throughout the organization. Specifically, on many occasions, black managers experience difficulty in obtaining cooperation or collaboration when trying to achieve many of the goals predetermined by upper-level management. As this pattern has continued throughout the years, black managers begin to question and doubt themselves, and sometimes, even wonder if they are just imagining these issues. Many black managers also consider if they are the only one experiencing these issues. Because of the continued instances of difficulty, the question as to why it is that these issues never seem to go away has to be pursued. The black manager experiences much more difficulty than their white counterparts within the organization as they attempt to move throughout the corporate ranks of white corporate America. In addition to this, as these types of experiences continue to occur, it seems that the compounding effect is that it becomes increasingly difficult for the black manager to advance through the ranks of the organization. The purpose of this study will be to examine in depth the types of difficulties that black managers have experienced at International Engine Corporation and throughout their professional careers. The purpose of this study is also to take the opportunity to study this perpetual reality in an effort to better understand what black managers feel the about these negative experiences within the corporate world. Particularly, the purpose of this study is to fully understand what it takes for the black manager to become very successful in corporate America.

The writer’s intent is to:

  • Learn practical day-to-day how-to solutions to the management problems experienced by black managers

  • Understand how the black manager’s blackness and culture impacts daily work interactions

  • Learn methods to collect, organize, and share data and techniques on how blacks and whites become successful in a multicultural environment

  • Share new and different methods for managing in the multicultural environment resulting from the entrance of blacks and other minorities into the professional ranks of all white institutions

  • Pinpoint several attitudes, emotions, job skills and behaviors learned by a number of black managers regarding adjusting to, and becoming successful in the white corporate world

  • Understand the potential disruptive effects that could be seen with the growth among blacks and minorities in the work force during the shift of power from whites to blacks and other minorities during the next century

  • Understand how many white managers who feel a need or commitment to help minorities succeed can proceed with these efforts without fear of reprisal

  • Learn how to eliminate confusion and self-doubt from the mind of the black manager regarding natural reactions to negative experiences in the workplace

  • Understand established and proposed structured models of development that can assist black and minority managers in organizing their experiences into useable frameworks to prepare for success

  • Learn the information needed regarding skills, attitudes, and emotions which must be acquired, to be positioned to move into executive levels of a corporation

In addition to the other purposes mentioned, the final purpose will be to take the information gathered from this research and hopefully work within International’s organization to develop an infrastructure for black managers and the organization to be utilized in an ongoing effort to reverse this trend.

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