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


  • Katherine Breward Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg, Department of Business and Economics,



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. 

Author Biography

Katherine Breward, Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg, Department of Business and Economics,

Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg, Department of Business and Economics,


Ajzen, I. (1991) The Theory of Planned Behaviour” Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 50, pp. 179-211.

Baldridge. Swift. (2016) “Age and Assessments of Disability Accommodation Requesting Normative Appropriateness”, Human Resource Management, 55, 3, pp. 385-400.

Balser, D. B. (2007) “Predictors of workplace accommodations for employees with mobility-related disabilities”, Administration & Society, 39, 5, 656-683.

Bargh, J.; Chaiken, S.; Raymond, P.; Hymes, C. (1996) “The Automatic Evaluation Effect:

Unconditionally Automatic Attitude Activation with a Pronunciation Task” Journal of

Experimental Social Psychology 32, pp. 185-210.

Bezrukova, K.; Jehn, K.; Spell, C. (2012) “Reviewing Diversity Training: Where We Have Been and Where We Should Go”, Academy of Management Learning and Education, 11, 2, pp.207-227.

Breward, K. (2016) “Predictors of Employer-sponsored Disability Accommodation Requesting in the Workplace”, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 5, 1, pp.1-41.

Brewer, M.; Gardner, W. (1996) “Who is This We? Levels of Collective Identity and Self Representations” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71, 1, pp. 83-93.

Brochu, P.; Morrison, M. (2007) “Implicit and Explicit Prejudice Toward Overweight and Average-

Weight Men and Women: Testing Their Correspondence and Relation to Behavioral

Intentions” The Journal of Social Psychology 147, 6, pp. 681-705.

Brown, C., Emery, J. (2010)

The Impact of Disability on Earnings and Labour Force Participation in

Canada: Evidence from PALS and from Canadian Case Law. Journal of Legal Economics 16(2):

pp. 19-59.

Bruyère, S. M., Erickson, W. A., & VanLooy, S. (2000). HR’s role in managing disability in the workplace. Employment Relations Today, 27(3), pp. 47-66.

Campolieti, M. (2009). Worker adaptation and the desire for accommodation after the onset of a disability. Industrial Relations, 48, pp. 329-349.

Campolieti, M. (2005). The correlates of accommodations for permanently disabled workers. Industrial Relations, 43, pp. 546-572.

Carpenter. Paetzold. (2013) “An Examination of Factors Influencing Responses to Requests for Disability

Accommodation”, Rehabilitation Psychology, 58, 1, pp. 18-27.

Cook, J. A., et al. (2007). Effects of co-occurring disorders on employment outcomes in a

multisite randomized study of supported employment for people with severe mental illness.

Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, 44(6), pp. 837-849.

Crawford, D.; Ostrove, J. (2003) Representations of Disability and the Interpersonal Relationships of

Women with Disabilities, Women & Therapy, 26, 3, p. 179.

Cronin, A.; King, A. (2010) Power, Inequality and Identification: Exploring Diversity and

Intersectionality Amongst Older LGB Adults, Sociology, 44, 5, p. 876.

Dacin, M. (1997) Isomorphism in Context: the Power and Prescription of Institutional Norms,

Academy of Management Journal, 40, 1, pp. 46-61.

Dahl, M. (1993) The role of the media in promoting images of disability: disability as metaphor, the evil

crip, Canadian Journal of Communication, 18, 1, p. 75.

Devine, P. (1989) “Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components” Journal of

Personality and Social Psychology 56, pp. 5-18.

DiMaggio, P. ; Powell, W. (1983) "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and

Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields." American Sociological Review 48, pp.


Dunn, E., Wewiorski, N., & Rogers, E.. (2008). The Meaning and Importance of Employment to People

in Recovery from Serious Mental Illness: Results of a Qualitative Study. Psychiatric

Rehabilitation Journal, 32, 1, p. 59.

Galarneau, D. (2005) Earnings of Temporary Versus Permanent Employees, Perspectives on

Labour and Income17. 1: 40-53

Gallagher, H. (1995) "Slapping up spastics": The persistence of social attitudes toward people with

disabilities, Issues in Law and Medicine, 10, 4, p. 401.

Glaser, J. Knowles, E. (2008) “Motivation to Control Prejudice” Journal of Experimental Social

Psychology 44, 1, p. 164.

Glass, J., Fujimoto, T. (1995) Employer characteristics and the provision of family responsive

policies, Work and Occupation, 22: 380.

Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity, Prentice-Hall.

Gunderson, M., & Hyatt, D. (1996). Do injured workers pay for reasonable accommodation? Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 50(1), 92-104.

Hausmann, L.; Ryan, C. (2004) “Effects of external and internal motivation to control prejudice on

implicit prejudice: The mediating role of efforts to control prejudiced responses”

Basic and Applied Social Psychology 26, 2/3, p. 215.

Hinsahw, S. (2007) The mark of shame: Stigma of mental illness and an agenda for change, Oxford

University Press, New York, NY.

Hogg, M.; Terry, D.; White, K. (1995) “A Tale of Two Theories: A Comparison of Identity Theory with

Social Identity Theory”, Social Psychology Quarterly 58, 5, pp. 255-269.

Hunt, C.; Hunt, B. (2004) Changing Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities: Experimenting with an

Educational Intervention, Journal of Managerial Issues, 16, 2, pp. 266-281.

Jones, M. (2007) Disability and the labour market: a review of the empirical evidence, Journal of

Economic Studies, 35(5): 405-424.

Kaye, H., (2009). Stuck at the Bottom Rung: Occupational Characteristics of Workers with

Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 19(2), pp. 115-28.

Klie, S. (2010) Stereotypes Hamper Employment: Report, Canadian HR Reporter, 23, 2, pp. 1-3.

Kuttner, R. (1997) The limits of labor markets, Challenge, 3: 75-102.

Link, B.; Phelan , J. (2001) Conceptualizing Stigma, Annual Review of Sociology, p.363.

Lynk. (2008) Disability and Work: The Transformation of the Legal Status of Employees with

Disabilities in Canada, working paper available online at SSRN: or

Mereish. (2012) “Intersectional Invisibility of Race and Disability Status”, Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, 5, 2, 52-60.

Ocasio W. (1997) Towards an Attention-Based View of the Firm. Strategic Management Journal, 18, pp.


Park, S., Glaser, J., & Knowles, E. (2008). Implicit motivation to control prejudice moderates the effects of cognitive depletion on unintended discrimination. Social Cognition, 26, pp. 401-419.

Paterson, B.. (2006) Newspaper representations of mental illness and the impact of the reporting of

'events' on social policy: the 'framing' of Isabel Schwarz and Jonathan Zito., Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing,13. 3: 294-300.

Patterson. (2012) “Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Impairments: an Empirical Study of

Employer Practice”, International Journal of Private Law, 5, 1, pp.40-60.

Powell, W.W. (2007) " The New Institutionalism". In The International Encyclopedia of Organization

Studies, Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publishers

Radacic, I. (2008) Gender Equality Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights,

Journal of International Law, 19, 4, pp. 841-858.

Reel, J.; Bucciere, R. (2010) Ableism and Body Image: Conceptualizing How Individuals are

Marginalized, Women in Sports and Physical Activity, 19, 1, pp. 91-98.

Renaud, S. (1998) Unions, wages and total compensation in Canada: An empirical study, Relations

Industrielles, 53(4): 710-729.

Ringer, R., Boss, W. (2000) Hospital professionals' use of upward influence tactics, Journal of

Managerial Issues, 12 (1): 92-108.

Sanderson, Andrews. (2006). Common Mental Disorders in the Workforce: Recent Findings From

Descriptive and Social Epidemiology. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51, 2, pp. 63-75.

Schartz, H. A., Hendricks, D. J., & Blanck, P. (2006). Workplace accommodations: Evidence based outcomes. Work, 27, pp. 345-354.

Scheid, T. (2005). Stigma as a barrier to employment: Mental disability and the Americans with

Disabilities Act. International Journal of Law & Psychiatry, 28, 6, pp. 670-690.

Schneider, D. (2004). The Psychology of Stereotyping. Guilford Press, New York, NY.

Schur, L. (2002, November). Dead end jobs or a path to economic well being? The consequences of non-

standard work among people with disabilities. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 20,6, pp. 601-620.

Schur, L. A. (2003). Barriers or opportunities? The causes of contingent and part-time work among

people with disabilities. Industrial Relations, 42, pp. 589–622.

Schur, L., Kruse, D., & Blanck, P. (2005). Corporate culture and the employment of persons with

disabilities. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 23, pp. 3-20.

Schur, L., Kruse, D., Blasi, J., & Blanck, P. (2009). Is Disability Disabling in All Workplaces? Workplace Disparities and Corporate Culture. Industrial Relations, 48 (3): 381.

Schartz, H., Hendricks, D. J., & Blanck, P. (2006). Workplace accommodations: Evidence based outcomes. Work, 27, pp. 345-354..

Scott, R. (2001) Institutions and Organizations, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Shaw., Kristman., William-Whitt., Soklaridis., Huang., Cote., Loisel. (2014) “The Job Accommodation Scale: A Psychometric Evaluation”, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 24, 4. pp. 755-765.

Shinall. (2016) “The Substantially Impaired Sex: Uncovering the Gendered Nature of Disability Discrimination”, Minnesota Law Review, in press.

Shore, T., Bommer, W., & Shore, L. (2008). An integrative model of managerial perceptions of employee commitment: antecedents and influences on employee treatment. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29(5), 635-655.

Simmons. (2016) “Intersectionality Problems with Gendered Disability Discrimination”, University of

South Dakota School of Law,

Soorenian. (2013) Disabled International Students in British Higher Education: Experiences and

Expectations”, ISBM 978-9-46-209411-6.

Tajfel, H. and Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of inter-group behavior. In S. Worchel and

L. W. Austin (eds.), Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Chigago: Nelson-Hall

Thun, B. (2007). Disability rights frameworks in Canada. Journal of Individual Employment Rights, 12(4), 251-371.

Unger, D., & Kregel, J. (2003). Employers' knowledge and utilization of accommodations. Work, 21(1),


Williams, R., Westmorland, M., Shannon, H., Amick, B. (2007) Disability Management Practices in

Ontario Health Care Workplaces, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 17(1): 153-65.

Wilkins, R. (2004) The Effects of Disability on Labour Force Status in Australia, The Australian

Economic Review37(4): 359-382.

World Health Organization. (2011) World Report on Disability.

Yeager, P., Kaye, H. S., Reed, M., & Doe, T. M. (2006). Assistive technology and employment: Experiences of Californians with disabilities. Work, 27, pp. 333-344.

Zarrehparvar, M. (2007) Tackling multiple discrimination: practices, policies, and laws, European

Commission, Brussels, Belgium.

Zeytinoglu, I., Cooke, G., Mann, S. (2009) Flexibility: Whose Choice Is It Anyway?, Relations

Industrielles, 64, 4, p. 555.

Ziegert, J.; Hanges, P. (2005) “Employment Discrimination: The Role of Implicit Attitudes, Motivation,

and a Climate for Racial Bias” Journal of Applied Psychology 90, 3, p. 553.

Zwerling, C., Whitten, P., Sprince, N., Davis, C., Wallace, R., Blanck, P., Heeringa, S.G. (2003). Workplace Accommodations for People with Disabilities: National Health Interview Survey Disability Supplement, 1994-1995. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 45, 5, p. 517.



How to Cite

Breward, K. (2017). Individual, Organizational, and Institutional Predictors of the Granting of Employer-sponsored Disability Accommodations. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 6(4), 56–91.