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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Human Resource Management Review, Volume 18, Issue 1, March 2008, Pages 28–45
Proponents of human capital theory suggest that skill has a key role in employment prospects for international migrants – workers engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which they are not a national – because the more skilled the worker, the greater her or his productivity, and that a productive worker enjoys better job and mobility in the labor market. Critics argue that a policy emphasis on migrants' skill level tends to simplify the employment and broader socio-cultural challenges migrants face. This paper takes a relational perspective on employment prospects for migrant workers addressing issues related to diversity and diversity management at macro-national, meso-organizational, and micro-individual levels. The paper argues that the customary human capital narrative of skilled migrants' success story, which is based on their comparison with unskilled migrants, must be expanded to take into account the interrelated and interdependent multilevel challenges skilled migrants face in the host labor market.
International labor migration has been described as ‘a new geography of centrality and marginality’ (Sassen, 1998: xxv), reflecting widening gaps not only in terms of structures and dynamics of economic activities across the world but also in terms of employment equity issues faced by migrants relative to the native population in host economies. Scholars generally agree that migration tends to maximize opportunity and enrich host economies by shifting human resources from economies where they are under-utilized or less rewarded to those where they are most needed (e.g., Benson-Rea and Rawlinson, 2003 and Kerr, 1997). Migrant workers, i.e., those engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which they are not a national, have a considerable influence on the world economy (Massey & Jess, 1995). For example, in Ireland, migrant workers are estimated to have added up to 3% growth to gross national product between 2003 and 2005 (McDonald, 2007). Similarly, in the USA, there is some evidence that immigrants increase specialization in the economy, enhance the nation's productive capacity, and aid innovation (Anderson, 2006). In the last few decades, there has been a surge in skilled migration, in particular from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’ countries (Iredale 1999), with implications for the broader strategies of national progress and planning (Papademetriou & Yale-Loehr, 1995). The increased mobility of migrants also increases the internationalization of professions and professional labor markets (Iredale, 2001). The result is a complex network of culturally diverse workforces and markets (Bachmann, 2006), an important subject in contemporary academic and policy research. There is a good deal of debate about the issues and challenges migrant workers face in the international labor market. Migrant research generally utilizes human capital theory to explain how individual attributes of migrants affect their labor market outcomes (Ho, 2006). Proponents of this theory usually apply quantitative methods to demonstrate that skill has a key role in employment prospects for international migrants because the more skilled the worker, the greater her or his productivity, and that a productive worker usually enjoys better job and mobility in the labor market (Becker, 1993 and Mincer, 1993). Accordingly, an investment in skill by the individual or the organization is seen as an investment in productivity that returns as income through gainful employment (Mayer, 1996). However, critics argue that there is a hole in our understanding of international migration because human capital studies usually lack in depth qualitative insights into migrants' issues, and that by causally linking employment outcomes to skill, such studies tend to exaggerate the success stories of skilled migrants in host labor markets (Ho & Alcorso, 2004). Consequently, migration policies that rest solely on human capital research may be misguided. Indeed, a narrow emphasis on skills does not explain how the interaction between individuals and their socio-cultural contexts is shaped by the structure of occupational opportunity, which in turn improves or hampers their career development (Miller, 1999).1 The current paper examines the employment prospects for skilled legal migrants (i.e., those legally entitled to work) through a relational perspective that transcends the disciplinary and methodological demarcations (such as human capital, socio-cultural and psychological orientations) that usually characterize migrant research. Based in the literature, the paper uses Syed and Özbilgin's (2007) relational framework for managing diversity to review the employment contexts of migrant workers at macro-national, meso-organizational, and micro-individual levels. Syed and Özbilgin argue that the usual single-level conceptualizations of managing diversity in the realm of legal or organizational policy fail to capture the interplay of multilevel challenges as well as structural and intersectional concerns of equality. They argue that the macro, meso and micro domains of diversity exist in a state of relational interdependence because individual workplace experiences and perspectives are not just a product of but also contribute to the macro-national and meso-organizational responses towards diversity. However, despite the ambitious framework that multilevel perspectives may offer (e.g., House et al., 1995, Klein and Kozlowski, 2000 and Klein et al., 1999), there is little research that can be termed as relational or multilevel in the field of managing diversity. The current paper addresses this gap by examining the multilevel issues skilled legal migrants from developing countries face in their pursuit of employment in developed countries. Drawing on previous research on international migrants in Australia, USA, UK, and other Western industrialized countries, the paper argues that skilled migrants constitute much more than a factor of production flowing across international borders, and that their employment opportunities are not only shaped by their skills and economic factors but also by their perceptions and experiences of the host society and its occupational opportunity structure. Instead of confining migrants' employment opportunities to either the human capital or socio-cultural perspective, this paper's relational approach to the complex issues skilled migrants face takes into account multiple challenges surrounding migrants' employment in host economies. The paper is divided into three main sections. Based on evidence of the disadvantage migrants face in developed countries, the first section argues that skilled migration constitutes a complex phenomenon often misunderstood in policy and research contexts. The second section offers a relational perspective on the issues and challenges skilled migrants face at the macro-national, meso-organization and micro-individual levels. The third section proposes a framework for future empirical research on this topic.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The paper has examined the complex macro-national, meso-organizational, and micro-individual issues skilled migrants face, and their implications for employment in the host labor market. It has demonstrated that due to multilevel contexts and issues surrounding migrants' careers, different employment opportunities are available to them relative to their native-born counterparts. The paper argued that the customary human capital narrative of skilled migrants' success story must be expanded to incorporate the multilevel challenges including socio-cultural, organizational and psychological challenges skilled migrants face in host economies. The paper offered a relational perspective, which helps in developing a realistic and holistic understanding of the work-related issues and challenges skilled migrants face at macro-national, meso-organizational, and micro-individual levels. The paper argued that such understanding is vital to formulate comprehensive diversity management policies in societies and organizations. It is anticipated that policies based on the relational perspective may be useful not only to individuals and organizations, but also to the society at large (see Table 1).Table 1 shows the management implications of considering employment prospects for migrant workers from a relational perspective. It describes how a number of variables operating at the macro-national and micro-individual levels have implications for meso-organizational approaches to managing migrant workers. For example, the Table highlights the possible implications of human rights for the employment opportunities of migrant workers. The related research question pertains to the extent to which national constitution and laws safeguard and implement human rights of migrants, and the extent to which such laws affect employment opportunities available to migrant workers. Similarly, at the micro-level, migrants' pre-migration careers and personal circumstances may influence their motivation to migrate which in turn may shape their career trajectories in the host economy. The Table explains how the macro-and micro-level factors are interrelated to the meso-level organizational approaches towards managing migrant workers. For example, organizational policies may range from a legally driven approach towards equal opportunity to a more proactive managing diversity approach consistent with the values of multiculturalism. It may be noted that the relational levels presented in this paper are not discrete; they are rather tightly interdependent and interrelated hence the term relational. Indeed, in several dimensions, each of the three levels may overlap with the other. For example, in the context of Australia, NESB migrants are reported to face complex challenges arising from their ethnic identity as well as job related attributes including Asian qualification and English language ability. This is a case of overlapping of individuals' social identity with the skill and human capital considerations in the host economy, i.e., an overlapping among the macro, meso, and micro-level factors. The inclusion of economic and human capital considerations in the proposed relational framework is expected to be of equal interest to policy makers and business organizations. The paper has demonstrated that despite some conceptual and policy limitations, there are at least some valuable features of current governmental and organizational policies which may be integrated into a relational approach. For example, the historical progression of social policy in Australia from assimilation to multiculturalism and the monitoring of the workforce diversity statistics by the EEOC in the USA are useful interventions to address diversity management at multiple levels. Similarly, Dench and colleagues' (2007) study of the UK organizations suggests that certain best practice organizations have adopted a strategic approach towards specifically attracting and managing migrant workers. Indeed, these and other similar interventions at the macro, meso and micro-levels can be readily included in a comprehensive policy framework for managing skilled migrants. There is some evidence that policy makers and advisors in various national and international contexts are increasingly emphasizing the significance of skill as the key to participation in a global economy. For example, the OECD Policy Brief (2002) identifies threefold objectives regarding immigration of highly skilled workers in OECD countries, i.e., to respond to market shortages; to increase the stock of human capital; and to encourage the circulation of the knowledge embodied in highly skilled workers and promote innovation. This is consistent with a previous OECD (1997) assertion that ‘internationalism should be seen as a preparation for 21st century capitalism’ (p.11) and that internationalism may be treated as ‘a means to improve the quality of education’ (p. 8). Research suggests that the overall economic performance of the OECD countries is ‘increasingly more directly based upon their knowledge stock and their learning capabilities’ (Foray & Lundvall, 1996: 21). Clearly, there is an international attempt to produce a new role for skill in terms of the human capital needed in ‘globalized’ institutions (Boeri, 2006 and Fitzsimons, 1999). The paper has highlighted the need for the policy and management research to attend to the complex perceptions and the associated socio-cultural challenges faced by skilled migrants, particularly those from backgrounds culturally distant from the host country. This is a view radically different from the human capital based policies, which assume that a skilled worker enjoys better job and mobility in the labor market, and that a governmental emphasis on skill (such as having a migration program heavily tilted towards skills — refer to the quote at the beginning of this paper) can alleviate a nation's needs for skill. Indeed, such view does not adequately take into account the socio-cultural and other multilevel challenges newcomers face in the host economy. For example, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIC, 2001: 2) claims that ‘a program which is weighted more towards skilled migration will have better overall labour [sic] market outcomes and thus a better economic impact than a program which is weighted towards family reunion migration.’ Similar approach is perceptible in Boeri's (2006) study which suggests that skilled migration may be treated as capital mobility; a phenomenon in which education more than age or gender influences human capital externalities. In terms of its implications for human resource management, the paper suggests that organization per se is an inadequate agent in managing skilled migrants, in particular those from culturally diverse backgrounds. Recent research supports this suggestion. In their review of the impact of cultural values on HRM policies and practices, Stone et al. (2007: 156) note that national culture influences organizational culture and values. In turn, organizational values affect job design, job specifications and the prototypes of ideal job applicants. As a result, there may be a host of negative consequences for individuals whose culture differs from that of the dominant culture. Indeed, organization, as one of many actors, has a critical role in developing and implementing work routines and structures which are inclusive for skilled migrants as well as other disadvantaged groups. However, the paper has demonstrated that there are other influences, such as social stereotypes, anti-discrimination laws, and individual agency and identity, which reside outside the organization domain.3 Therefore, issues related to skilled migrants cannot be understood or tackled at any one discrete level; a relational multilevel approach is needed. Researchers are encouraged to move to an examination of the various contextual variables, such as anti-discrimination and human rights laws, and how they affect real and perceived limitations on employment opportunities available to skilled migrants. In particular, there is a need to examine different components of individual personality and social roles, such as ethnicity, gender, and values, and their intersection with skill, legal status, and duration of stay in the host economy. Researchers may note that hypotheses in multilevel research may describe not simply the direction of the relationship between constructs but also the level or across levels of each predicted relationship, such as a multilevel homologous relationship which would allow researchers to generalize both constructs and functional relations linking the constructs across different levels (Klein & Kozlowski, 2000). For example, researchers may like to investigate the extent to which national accreditation procedures are interrelated to migrants' professional careers and family responsibilities in the host country, and that the extent to which the implications of a phenomenon (accreditation in this case) are similar or different across different levels. It can be noted that multilevel validation can serve as the basis for distinctive or similar interventions directed at the same phenomena at multiple levels of analysis, e.g., diversity management strategies at the meso-organizational level and legal procedures at the macro-national level. Table 1 presents a number of possible research questions that might be of interest to future researchers. Indeed, construct and model choices of future researchers would drive the operationalization of the constructs and the sampling plan. However, a multitude of research methods, all of which should be treated as complementary, can be deployed to conduct such research at various levels. For example, while quantitative techniques may be useful to develop an authoritative generalizing account of migrants' roles (such as participation rates) and issues (such as legal complaints) in various industries and sectors of economy, in depth qualitative insights (such as based on migrants' own narratives) may be useful to explore the complex individual-level perspectives and experiences that characterize migrants' everyday work routines in the host society. This author looks forward to reporting empirical work on the multilevel challenges of diversity as experienced by skilled migrants working as professionals or managers in business organizations in Australia. This will feature stories of NESB migrant women working in various organizations in Sydney, and this author would argue for more work in this area. Scholars may wish to conduct similar research in other geographical contexts, or apply within-group as well as intra-group designs to explore and compare implications of various social identities on migrants' careers.