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Integrating Highly-Qualified Migrants



Funding body



Principal investigator: Aida Hajro
External Principal investigator: Guenter Stahl
Co-investigator: Chris Brewster (University of Reading - UK), Ingmar Björkman (Aalto University - Finland), Jean-Luc Cerdin (ESSEC Business School - France), Akram Ariss (Toulouse Business School – France), Eric Davoine (Université de Fribourg - Switzerland), Wolfgang Mayr¬hofer (Vienna University of Economics and Business - Austria), Sebastian Reiche (IESE Business School - Spain), Lena Zander (Uppsala University - Sweden), Jelena Zikic (University of Toronto - Canada), Dan Caprar (University of Sydney - Australia), Mila Lazarova (Simon Fraser University - Canada), Torsten Kühl¬mann (Bayreuth University - Germany), Mary Zellmer-Bruhn (Carlson School of Management - USA), Mami Taniguchi (Waseda University – Japan), Guenter Stahl (WU & INSEAD – Austria/France) and Aida Hajro (Brunel University London - UK), Callen Clegg (Brunel University London)

Project description

Aims of the Project. The purpose of the proposed research project is to develop a better understanding of the challenges and coping strategies of highly-qualified migrants (HQMs), as well as shed light on how organizations facilitate the integration of these individuals. Another objective is to investigate how characteristics of the broader institutional and cultural context, such as national immigration policies, public support systems, and societal values may affect migrants’ integration outcomes, either directly or by shaping organizational norms and practices.

Research Questions. Our research questions and hypotheses tests require a multi-level, multi-method research approach, as well as close collaboration of researchers based in different countries and regions to investigate the cross-national dimensions. This calls for a network of co-investigators across the globe who represent different paradigmatic/methodological orientations (both qualitative and quantitative) and regional expertise (in-depth knowledge of European, North-American and Austral-Asian institutional contexts). The following research questions will be pursued through collaboration with research groups in 12 coun­tries (Austria, Spain, Finland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Sweden, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, USA):

  1. Micro-level: How do individual factors (religious beliefs, motivation to migrate, coping strategies, skills, etc.) influence migrants’ ability to integrate in the destination country?
  2. Meso-micro levels: Which organizational characteristics (corporate culture, diversity climate, HR practices, etc.) affect migrants’ acculturation dynamics, adjustment patterns and integration outcomes?
  3. Macro-meso-micro levels: How do aspects of the broader institutional and cultural context (immi­gration policies, public support systems, societal values, etc.) shape organizational culture, policies and practices with regard to integration of migrants and promote or constrain migrants’ ability to cope with the integration challenges in the destination country?

Significance for the Research Field.The planned research project promises to make a groundbreaking contribution to our under­standing of the drivers of acculturation processes and integration outcomes of HQMs by adopting a multilevel design, measurement and analysis approach. First, we offer a unifying, multidimensional framework that synthesizes work from hitherto largely disparate fields (including acculturation, diversity management, cross-cultural and comparative studies, and institutional theory) toward under­standing the nature, antecedents, and outcomes of integration-related processes at various levels. Further, by exploring cross-national variations and inter-organizational differences, we aim to develop a better understanding of the boundary conditions and under­lying pro­cesses that affect the integration of HQMs. Importantly, the con­cepts and empirical insights developed in this project, by virtue of their multi-level nature, will allow researchers to think more broadly about HQMs as embedded within groups and organizations, as well as organizations embedded within institutional and cultural contexts.

Impact Statement: Policy Relevance and Social Impact. Our research will produce important findings on a variety of policies and practices aimed at integrating HQMs into their workplaces and effectively managing diversity in large organizations. Our findings will provide practitioners with guidance on how to design effective organizational policies and support systems to facilitate the integration of HQMs. Further, this study will have important implications for employer associations, unions, and governmental agencies.