Perceptions of Group Membership: Bringing Intentionality to the Forefront of Inclusion and Exclusion
In this paper, we propose a novel approach to conceptualizing inclusion and exclusion in the workplace. Drawing on a review of the inclusion and exclusion literatures, we argue that individuals desire autonomy in choosing their group memberships. To reflect this, we propose a framework for the conceptualization of inclusion and exclusion that has two dimensions: belongingness and intentionality. From these two dimensions arise four states of perceived group membership: earned inclusion, earned exclusion, unearned inclusion and unearned exclusion. We build on these constructs by defining the process of transition between each state and provide examples to illustrate each pathway. Finally, we outline several propositions regarding the outcomes of earned and unearned social states in organizations. We conclude with the implications of our framework for management theory and practice, as well as suggestions for future study.