Nardon, L., Zhang, H., Szkudlarek, B., Gulanowski, D. Identity work in refugee workforce integration – the role of newcomer support organizations, Human Relations

How does professional employment support provided by newcomer support organizations (NSOs) influence highly-skilled refugees’ professional identities and workforce integration? To answer this question, we draw on interviews with 25 managers and staff of NSOs in Canada and 11 recently arrived, highly-skilled refugees. We contribute to the literature on refugee workforce integration by shedding light on the dynamic process of employment support in which NSOs engage in sensegiving practices and influence refugees’ understanding of career options, assessment of opportunities, and their professional identity responses. We found that NSOs attempted to manage refugees’ expectations of career opportunities while fostering hope for the future and that refugees reacted to NSOs’ sensegiving practices by resisting expectation management messages, recrafting a new identity, or bracketing the present as transitory. We highlight the role of external agents in sensemaking and identity work by exploring work role transitions caused by forced migration. Furthermore, we uncover the dynamics of power and contextual constraints that influence sensegiving interactions. From a practical point of view, we argue that in the absence of quality employment opportunities, the reliance on refugees’ resilience and their motivation for long-term professional integration may further marginalize them.

Lee, E., Szkudlarek, B., Nguyen, D., Nardon, L. Unveiling the canvas ceiling: a multidisciplinary literature review of refugee employment and workforce integration, International Journal of Management Reviews

Increasing levels of displacement and the need to integrate refugees in the workforce pose new challenges to organizations and societies. Extant research on refugee employment and workforce integration currently resides across various disconnected disciplines, posing a significant challenge for management scholars to contribute to timely and relevant solutions. In this paper, we endeavour to address this challenge by reviewing and synthesizing multidisciplinary literature on refugee employment and workforce integration. Using a relational framework, we organize our findings around three levels of analysis – institutional, organizational and individual – to outline the complexity of factors affecting refugees’ employment outcomes. Based on our analysis, we introduce and elaborate on the phenomenon of the canvas ceiling ‒ a systemic, multilevel barrier to refugee workforce integration and professional advancement. The primary contributions of this paper are twofold. First, we map and integrate the multidisciplinary findings on the challenges of refugee workforce integration. Second, we provide management scholarship with a future research agenda to address the knowledge gap identified in this review and advance practical developments in this domain.

Moffitt, U., Nardon, L., Zhang, H. Negotiating Identity and National Belonging in the Public Sphere: Narratives of High-Skilled Work, International Journal of Intercultural Relations

Abstract

We investigate how economic immigrants in Canada negotiate their identity in the process of “becoming Canadian” through an analysis of public texts. Drawing on the master narrative framework, we examine the interplay between individual and societal narratives as immigrants grapple with the tension between notions of “desirable” immigrants as those that are well integrated professionally and the reality of facing career related barriers. Among those whose success stories align with the master narrative of professional attainment there was little questioning of this expectation, thereby allowing it to remain invisible. Among those who had not (yet) achieved work related success in the receiving country, they tended to engage alternative narratives elaborating on the antecedents, outcomes, and barriers to labor market participation. Despite the countering nature of these alternative narratives, they strengthen the societal expectation of professional success as a key pathway to inclusion, thereby reinforcing the rigidity of this narrative. We contribute to literature on the social construction of national identity by examining the process of becoming national and the role of labor market participation in immigrants’ perceptions of inclusion in their new society. Our study highlights the importance of including immigrants’ voices in the construction of a more inclusive society, which may aid in breaking down exclusionary narratives of national identity.

 

Szkudlarek, B., Nardon, L. Osland, J., Adler, N. J., & Lee, E.S. When context matters: what happens to international business theory when researchers study refugees, Academy of Management Perspective

Abstract

The overwhelming number of refugees in the world today constitutes a major socio-economic and political challenge. With more than 50 years of scholarship on global mobility, International Business (IB) should be well positioned to address this challenge. Yet the field’s historic emphasis on expatriates has resulted in dominant assumptions and perspectives that are not relevant for other groups moving across borders. Empirical path dependence has caused significant conceptual blindness. Focusing primarily on expatriates who, in fact, represent an extreme case of international transitions, has resulted in conceptualizations of international adjustment that are partial and incomplete. These conceptualizations overly rely on individual- and organizational-level factors at the expense of critical macro-level factors. Extending the domain of IB scholarship by examining the contrasting extreme case of refugees opens up the field to new theorizing and a broader, more accurate conceptualization of international adjustment. Studying the international adjustment of refugees exposes previously taken-for-granted assumptions and generates insights that will allow IB as well as general management scholars to develop more robust theories and urgently needed practical interventions.

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Nardon, L., Aten, K. 2016. “Making sense of a foreign culture through technology: Triggers, mechanisms, and introspective focus in newcomers’ blog narratives”, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 54: 15-20.

Abstract

This study explored the blogs of newcomers to Canada to investigate the role of blogging in newcomers’ efforts to make sense of a foreign culture. We describe the phenomenon of sensemaking in blogging and identify triggers, mechanisms, and introspective focus of cultural sensemaking in newcomers’ blogs. Our study contributes to research on intercultural learning by supporting the argument that blogs are a promising site for intercultural studies. We also extend this discussion by demonstrating that sensemaking in and through blogging is an important phenomenon deserving study as a research subject and showing that (1) newcomers use blogs to make sense of discrepancies triggered by experiences, observation of patterns and temporal milestones, (2) newcomers make sense through self-debating, making comparisons to the home country, sequencing, and reflecting on information-gathering, and (3) bloggers focus introspection during sensemaking on their thoughts and emotions.
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Aten, K., Nardon, L., Isabelle, D. 2016 “Making sense of foreign context: Skilled migrant’s perceptions of contextual barriers and career options”. International Journal of Cross-Cultural Management, 16(2): 191-214.

Abstract

This study amplifies understanding of the occupational marginalization of skilled migrants by elaborating the role of cognition in skilled migrants’ perception of contextual barriers and career options. Our qualitative analysis of interviews with 13 Filipino engineers who migrated to Canada revealed that migrants’ perceptions are influenced by their mobility frames. We identified three cognitive mobility frames: migrant, migrant professional, and mobile professional. We found that migrants accessed local interpretations of contextual barriers through interactions in the situational context and that migrants’ mobility frames focused their attention on particular individual resources and characteristics of context, suggesting potential career options.
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Nardon, L., Aten, K., Gulanowski, D. 2015. “Expatriate Adjustment in the Digital Age: The co-creation of online social support resources through blogging”, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 47: 41-55.

Abstract

Support provided through social contacts in the host environment has long been recognized as critical for expatriate adjustment. Internet technologies are changing the way individuals form and interact with social contacts and access social support. These technologies have the potential to offer expatriates new sources and means for accessing social support. We investigated the role of blogging technology in expatriates’ adjustment to foreign environments through a qualitative analysis of a set of blogs written by foreign individuals living in Canada between 2005 and 2012. We found that the blogging system, which is comprised of the blogging technology, bloggers, discussants, and co-created digital discourse, generated online adjustment support resources which were accessed by expatriates. Online adjustment support resources are social support resources, created and residing online, which may help expatriates deal with their experiences of uncertainty, ambiguity and anxiety and include information, interpretation schemas, and comfort.
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Sanchez-Runde, C., Nardon, L., Steers, R.M. 2013. “The Cultural Roots of Ethical Conflicts in Global Business”, Journal of Business Ethics, September 2013, 16(4): 689-701.

Abstract

This study examines the cultural roots of ethical conflicts in the global business environment. It begins with a brief look at worldviews on ethical behavior in general. Based on this, it is argued that an in-depth understanding of ethical conflicts has been hampered by an overreliance on Western models and viewpoints. Three common sources, or bases, of ethical conflicts are discussed as they relate to business practices, including conflicts over tastes and preferences, the relative importance of moral imperatives compared to legal requirements, and people’s level of tolerance for different values among others. It is then argued that an understanding of ethical conflicts can be facilitated through different levels of understanding, including the meaning of universal values, the relationship between values and practices, and the existence of multiple levels of conflict within the same organizations or industries. These specific and interrelated ingredients in cross-cultural ethical conflicts form the basis for a broader discussion of the meaning of truth as it relates to such conflicts. The paper concludes with the need for more research that is cross-cultural and multidisciplinary in order to improve theory building and managerial practice.
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Nardon, L. & Aten, K. 2012. “The Value Of Virtual Worlds: The Role Of Categorization In Technology Assessment”, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 13(10), Article 4.

Abstract

Virtual worlds offer great potential for supporting the collaborative work of geographically distributed teams. However, reports indicate the existence of substantial barriers to the acceptance and use of virtual worlds in business settings. In this paper, we explore how individuals’ interpretations of virtual worlds influence their judgments of the value of the technology. We conducted a qualitative analysis set in the context of a large computer and software company that was in the process of adopting virtual worlds for distributed collaboration. We identified interpretations of virtual worlds that suggest three mental categories: virtual worlds as a medium, virtual worlds as a place, and virtual worlds as an extension of reality. We associated these mental categories with different criteria for assessing the value of virtual worlds in a business setting. This study contributes particularly to the acceptance of virtual worlds but also more generally to the understanding of technology acceptance by demonstrating that the relative importance of the criteria for assessing a technology varies with potential users’ interpretations and mental categorizations.
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