Explaining Multicultural Attitudes in the Dutch Armed Forces

The Relationship Between Multicultural Attitudes,
Personal Characteristics and Personal Value Orientations

Natasja Rietveld, Rudy Richardson, & Fons van de Vijver


Until recently, the active recruitment and integration of ethnic minority groups are important topics of policy of the Ministry of Defence in the Netherlands. Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Defence in the past to emphasize equal access for culturally different groups, many employees from these ethnic groups left the organization before ending their military education or contract. One of the reasons for premature leaving the Armed Forces is their treatment by mainstream colleagues, including ethnic jokes, discrimination, or even exclusion. On request of the Dutch Ministry of Defence three large surveys (2006, 2008 and 2011) were conducted to provide a better insight in, and understanding of the multicultural attitudes of service members and civilian employees of the Dutch Armed Forces. The third study in 2011 contains, in addition to the nature of multicultural attitudes of employees of the Dutch Armed Forces, antecedents of multicultural attitudes. Based on relevant literature we found several personal, professional and societal determinants of multicultural attitudes to be predictive. Our presentation deals with some results of the third conducted survey (2011, N = 1,251). We found that the average multicultural attitude of employees of the Dutch Armed Forces is neutral (i.e., close to the midpoint of the response scale). The average multicultural attitude of Ethnic employees is more positive than the attitude of mainstream employees (resp. 3.25 vs 3.03). With regard to the further relationship between attitudes, and personal characteristics and value orientations (Schwartz’s Personal Values Questionnaire, 1994) we found a positive relationship between education level and socio economic status and multicultural attitudes. Furthermore, we found that hedonism, power and conformity were negatively and universalism was positively related to attitudes towards multiculturalism.