Individual, Organizational, and Institutional Predictors of the Granting of Employer-sponsored Disability Accommodations

Katherine Breward


This research examines the predictors of accommodation granting among adult workers with disabilities using data collected from 5,418 respondents to a Statistics Canada post 2006 census survey called the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey.  Using a rational choice perspective that focuses on perceived utility (limited by social identity effects),  I test a series of hypotheses about individual, organizational, and institutional variables that predict willingness to grant disability-related workplace accommodations.  One key finding is that different predictors are significant for different types of accommodations, highlighting the need to avoid generalizing from one type of accommodation to another.  Another important finding is that, as a category, individual variables directly related to disability explained a greater amount of variance in accommodation granting than other aspects of personal identity, organizational factors, or institutional variables. There was evidence that decision-making was influenced by stereotyping and the stigmatization of particular disability types.  There was also evidence that occupational and industry-based logics of appropriateness are salient for the most commonly requested types of accommodations.  Meanwhile institutional forces meant to act as behavioural controls, such as legislation and union protection, do not seem to be having the intended positive influence on accommodation provision in the workplace. The findings suggest that other forms of intervention, such as community education, may be required to encourage greater access to workplace accommodations. 

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