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Organizations under-employing migrants

Underemploying highly skilled migrants: An organizational logic protecting corporate ‘normality’ a new publication by Annette Risberg and Laurence Romani in Human Relations

Why do highly skilled migrants encounter difficulties getting a skilled job? In this study, instead of searching for an answer in migrants’ characteristics, we turn to organizations and ask: why do organizations underemploy highly skilled migrants? With an in-depth qualitative study of a programme for highly skilled migrants’ labour integration in Sweden, we show that highly skilled migrants are perceived as a potential threat to organizational norms and practices. Using the relational theory of risk – approaching risk as socially constructed – the study provides a novel explanation for highly skilled migrants’ underemployment. It shows an organization logic protecting corporate practices seen as ‘normal’ from a perceived disruption that employing highly skilled migrants could possibly cause. Theoretical contributions to the understanding of highly skilled migrants’ employability are threefold: (1) the field assumption that organizations are in favour of hiring migrants is challenged; (2) highly skilled migrants’ underemployment is explained through a protective organizational logic; and (3) we stress the necessity to problematize an implicit reference to organizational normality when recruiting.

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CASL-Publications Publication