Eight partners from across Europe have established a unique network of experts in the field of global labor mobility. Through research and exchange with businesses they aim to develop strategies to overcome mobility barriers and ultimately tackle increasing labor shortages in the EU. In the large-scale project "GLOMO – Global mobility of employees", researchers from these partner institutions investigated links between the professional career development of migrants and their work abroad in the EU. An edited collection of the findings of 15 international doctoral researchers in diverse subject areas was published in October 2022.
What impact does employee mobility have on individuals, organizations, European societies, and national economies? Researchers investigated this from the perspectives of business, economy, sociology, and political science.
"One of the practical goals of GLOMO was to develop an audit or seal of quality acknowledging organizations that provide excellent working conditions for international employees," explains Dr Maike Andresen, professor at the University of Bamberg and initiator and coordinator of GLOMO from 2017 until 2021. The overall project is part of the University of Bamberg’s "Empirical Social Research on Education and Labor" focus area.
The research team has outlined a catalogue of criteria for the "International Employer" audit. This catalogue will continue to be developed even after funding for the project has ended. It is intended to help organizations identify their strengths and weaknesses in recruiting and promoting qualified employees from abroad and to compare them with the average values of other companies.
Four early-career researchers from the University of Bamberg participated in the large-scale project, among them Monika Bozhinoska Lazarova from Northern Macedonia and Anh Nguyen from Vietnam.
Nguyen, a social and organizational psychologist, investigated the factors that motivate immigrant employees to remain with an organization and in the host country for longer periods of time. One of her main findings is that employers should support employees from abroad to remain in contact with their home country. Why? "International employees who are integrated into both their country of origin and their host country feel more comfortable, show better work results, and are more interested in staying in their host country and with their employer than expatriates who are only integrated into their host country," says Nguyen. These employees often have greater resources. For example, their families at home can comfort them in times of stress, and they often have extensive professional networks that they can use to help further their careers.
Nguyen’s and Andresen’s survey of 707 immigrant employees in Europe shows that most of those interviewed were only integrated into their home country and not into their country of residence (51 percent). 43 percent had integrated themselves primarily into the private and social life of their host country, 2 percent primarily into working life. Only 4 percent of the interviewed immigrant employees were successfully integrated into both their home country and their country of residence.
Additionally, a longitudinal study of 107 expatriate dual-earner couples conducted by both researchers showed that expatriates experience particularly high career satisfaction when they are also integrated into the social life of their country of residence. The couples also provided each other with substantial resources by supporting one another to integrate into social life abroad and by promoting their partner’s career satisfaction.
For this reason, the two researchers recommend that “policy makers and employers recognize the benefits of this sense of belonging and establish appropriate support measures for immigrant employees.” For instance, work permits for immigrants’ partners should be issued more often and support systems for migrant families should be provided. Nguyen presents further survey results in an article from the recently published collection "Wanderlust to wonderland? Exploring key issues in expatriate careers: Individual organizational and societal insights (PDF: 4 MB)." Andresen, who is supervising her doctoral dissertation, is one of the publication’s editors.
The GLOMO project is an international research project coordinated in Bamberg. Eight partners from across Europe built a unique network of experts in the field of global labor mobility in a longer-term bid to tackle increasing labor and skills shortages in the EU.
- Funding: €4 million from Horizon 2020 (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action, 2018–2021)
- Doctoral Candidates: 15
- Cooperation Partners: 8 European partner institutions, 11 companies
From a socio-political perspective, Monika Bozhinoska Lazarova investigated how the integration and immigration policies of European states affect immigrants’ willingness to become involved in political parties. The doctoral candidate explains, "Participation in social and political life in the new home countries is an important aspect of integration and a prerequisite for a democratic Europe."
Her analysis of a survey of more than 43,000 people in 25 European democracies revealed that first-generation immigrants participate in the social and political life of their new home countries to a significantly lesser extent. As a result, they have fewer opportunities to shape society than citizens without a migration background or second-generation migrants. Her most important finding is that the typical characteristics of the country of origin, as well as the migrant’s educational and professional background, may exert a strong influence on integration. Important findings for the entire GLOMO project are that integrative legal frameworks in education and labor market policies, opportunities to obtain citizenship, and effective measures to prevent discrimination can significantly reduce migrant barriers to political participation.
"Immigrants join one of their new home country’s political parties if they have citizenship in that country, have a great deal of self-confidence, and believe that their involvement is well received," says Lazarova to summarize her study’s findings. Another insight is that people from undemocratic states often have less confidence in democratic politics. They are also less likely to join a political party in their new homes. "Interestingly, immigrants are more likely to overcome their reservations if they experience good integration policies in their new home country," adds the doctoral researcher, who was supported by Bamberg political scientists Olaf Seifert and Professor Thomas Saalfeld.
Both Nguyen and Lazarova will remain at the University of Bamberg after the GLOMO project has concluded. They are completing their doctoral dissertations at the Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS). In addition to a range of grants and scholarships for doctoral candidates, BAGSS provides a supportive working and educational environment for highly qualified doctoral candidates.
Anh Nguyen and Monika Boszhinoska Lazarova intend to continue their research. Nguyen would like to concentrate on how immigrant workers adapt emotionally to a different culture and Lazarova would like to tackle diverse issues in migration research.