Making The New England Aquarium Accessible To Minority Communities

1394 words - 6 pages

The New England Aquarium had a difficult dilemma. The organization wanted to become an entity representative of the city of Boston and characterize its ethnic, racial, and economic diversity. However, since the late 1960's, the aquarium was considered inaccessible by minority communities. As such, its board of trustees wanted to change this image. In the early 1990's, they developed a plan to "attract and involve" populations previously underrepresented. At the same time, the education department began to implement programs targeting minority youth. Despite the good intentions, these efforts proved unsuccessful and jeopardized the cohesion of the department. The experiences of the youth programs in the education department demonstrate considerable structural and human resource frame management faults. The issues that highlight the structural faults revolve around the mission statement and goals of the aquarium, as well as the structure configuration and its coordination. Human Resource issues revolve around the relationships and conflicting needs of the aquarium and its people, including the minority youth.

Perhaps the most visible and obvious structural issue revolves around the aquarium's mission statement and goals. As noted in the case study, the original mission statement "make known the world of water through education, research, and exhibition" concentrates on its goal to bring sea life to the community. The new mission statement saw the aquarium as a "responsive community resource that attracts the broadest possible audience delivering highest quality experience" and as "a culturally diverse staff."

When the new mission statement was implemented, diversity initiatives were limited to the education department under youth programs. The vision to reach broad communities, including the hearing and vision-impaired, were never addressed. This division between vision and implementation undermines the efforts of the governing board by executive staff. The integration or division of labor is poorly demonstrated in this case study. We see management unable to address strategic goals due to a changing staff environment. For instance, turnover and conflict among educators forced the youth programs to be relegated under the volunteer operations. Further, as associate director of programs and exhibitions Alan Hankin states, that the lack of line-item funding suggests insufficient commitment to the diversity efforts in the youth program by administrators. A method of improving the long-term standing could be by creating a dialogue between administrators of how they’d like to see the goals of the board being implemented. A strategy session, or perhaps a strategic retreat, would allow educators to share stated and taboo goals.

Another main point of conflict features the differentiation and integration of work and responsibilities. The aquarium’s management created staff positions for minority youth but didn’t create a...

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