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Organizations and the inclusion of skilled migrants

Using a labor inclusion program targeting skilled migrants, the project investigates how migrants and managers actively cocreate the terms of inclusion/exclusion. This research project analyzes two issues: a) the structural barriers faced by skilled migrants amidst organizational efforts to include, and b) managers ability to construct inclusive narratives for an increasingly diverse workforce.

In their efforts to include, organizations construct skilled migrants as motivated professionals. However, good intentions often backlash, generating episodes of exclusion. Paradoxically, while organizational discourses promote inclusion, power inequality is reproduced leading to exclusion. Therefore, the project draws on critical sociology (Bourdieu, Boltanski) to address these two research questions:

  • How are the terms of inclusion engaged with?
  • What forms of everyday negotiations emerge in organizational inclusion processes?

The empirical setting is centered in a large organization striving to include skilled migrants and constructing itself as an inclusive workplace. Defining skilled migrants as reflexive agents, the project examines how the terms of inclusion are actively engaged with. To unpack the terms of inclusion, the project critically and reflexively digs deep into the agency of skilled migrants. This is done through an 18-month ethnography, that combines shadowing, 60 one-on-one interviews, and document analysis. The analysis focuses on organizational practices such as training, recruitment, internal and external communication, and informal gatherings. The project explores the everyday barriers and enablers skilled migrants experience regarding skills, professionalism, ethnicity, culture, class, language, and religion in new organizational contexts.

The project contributes to inclusion research and critical management studies with four novel insights.

First, it re-directs the scholarly discussion on inclusion towards conditionality. It argues for a new perspective in researching inclusion, keeping the terms of inclusion as central.

Second, it shows how inclusion is a negotiated process. Focusing on negotiations, the project highlights processes of dispute and closure in organizations.

Third, it re-signifies minority agency by highlighting the capacity of migrant professionals to question power in organizations. The project advances the possibility that minorities can fully resist and considers the prospect of collective resistance to the terms of inclusion.

Fourth, it argues that the optimistic discourses backing organizational practices can have consequences for inclusion. The importance of optimism in shaping agency is exposed and suggested as a dimension to be taken seriously.

The project’s outcome can be found here: https://research.hhs.se/esploro/outputs/991001515599506056

Project leader:

Miguel Morillas


Morillas, M. and Romani, L. (2022). Ideology, doxa and critical reflexive learning: The possibilities and limits of thinking that ‘diversity is good’. Management Learning, 54(4), 511–530. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505076221074632

Hunger, E., Morillas, M. Romani, L. & Mohsen, M. (2020). Unequal integration: Skilled migrants’ conditional inclusion along the lines of Swedishness, class and ethnicity, in J. Mahadevan, H. Primecz & L. Romani, Cases in Critical Cross-Cultural Management: An Intersectional Approach to Culture, Routledge.

Morillas, M. & Romani, L. (2019). Struggling for recognition: Highly-skilled migrants’ cultural capital in the inclusive organization. https://journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/AMBPP.2019.17406abstract


Financed by Jan Wallanders and Tom Hedelius foundation and Tore Browaldhs foundation (Handelsbanken).