Monday, 4 March 2013

Withholding Requests for Disability Accommodation: The Role of Individual Differences and Disability Attributes

an article by David C. Baldridge and Michele L. Swift (Oregon State University, USA) published in Journal of Management Volume 39 Number 3 (March 2013)


Prior research suggests that people with disabilities often do not request needed workplace accommodations, though relatively few studies address which factors influence the extent of such potentially self-limiting behaviour.

Drawing on workplace disability, help seeking, and social identity literature, this study proposes and tests a model of request withholding frequency using survey data from 279 people with hearing impairments.

Consistent with expectations, older employees withheld requests less frequently; however, there was no main effect of gender. Moreover, the strength of the relationship between age and request withholding frequency was significantly weaker when the disability was more severe and when the age of disability onset was earlier.

Similarly, disability severity influenced the strength of the relationship between gender and request withholding frequency, though the age of disability onset did not.

These findings are consistent with social identity theory, in that those individual differences and disability attributes that shape social identities also appear to affect decisions to request disability accommodation.

In practical terms, managers need to not only be supportive of disability accommodation requests but also recognize that some employees, such as young persons with disabilities, may need even more support, and support in a form that affirms or minimizes threats to other salient identities, such as their youth.

Additional implications for management research and practice are discussed.

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