Shaping the Organizational Context for Black American Inclusion


  • Thomas F. Pettigrew,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Amsterdam, Netherlands and University of California, Santa Cruz
      Stevenson College, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 5

      THOMAS F. PETTIGREW is Professor of Social Psychology at both the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the University of California, Santa Cruz. He served as SPSSI President in 1967–1968, and he is the 1987 recipient of the Society's Kurt Lewin Award. He is currently completing a book on modern racism in the United States, and initiating research on minority discrimination and affirmative action in the Netherlands.

  • Joanne Martin

    1. Stanford University
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 4

      JOANNE MARTIN is Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Business and, by courtesy, in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Department of Psychology and Social Relations, Harvard University. Her recent publications examine the relationships of economic inequality, perceived injustice, and collective action in organizations. She is also currently writing a book on the emergence and disappearance of cultures in organizations.

Stevenson College, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064.


Recent gains in black occupational status, importantly aided by such programs as affirmative action, have created new interracial job situations throughout American society. This paper reviews the problems that arise at the recruitment, entry, and promotional stages for black Americans. The problems arise from two interrelated sources: the structure of the situations themselves and the operation of antiblack prejudice in both its traditional and modern forms. A social psychological analysis is advanced that emphasizes the biases introduced by the “triple jeopardy” these new workers often endure: (1) negative racial stereotypes, (2) the solo role—when the worker is the only black in the work group, and (3) the token role—when new black workers are viewed by white co-workers as incompetent simply because they received their jobs through affirmative action. The barriers to black inclusion created by this triple jeopardy are discussed at several levels: biased and stressful recruitment practices; assumed dissimilarity and exaggerated expectations on entry; and later polarized, biased evaluations of performance. These processes often deny the new black employee needed realistic feedback and informal social support. The results, then, can involve not only biased evaluations but actual decrements in black job performance. The analysis is illustrated by several suggested micro-remedies. But these micro-remedies alone are unlikely to be sufficient unless administered in the larger context of structural, macro-remedies. Two illustrative macro-remedies are advanced, both of which aim to prevent solo situations and enlarge the black pool of qualified workers.