The influence of migrants on MNC workforce well-being

Butler, Christina, Paolillo, Anna and Scuderi, Vittorio (2022) The influence of migrants on MNC workforce well-being. In: 48th European International Business Academy (EIBA) Annual Conference: Walking the talk? Transitioning towards a sustainable world; 08–10 Dec 2022, Oslo, Norway. (Unpublished)


Global migration is a phenomenon that is affecting more and more countries, having an impact at individual, organisational and societal level. As the International Organisation for Migration has reported (2020), 272 million of people live in a country other than their home country. Specifically, 82.4 million of them have been forced to leave their homeland and become refugees to escape from war, violence, persecution, and crises (UNHCR, 2021). This increase in international migratory movements, diversification and greater politicisation of this phenomenon have led to define this period as the “Age of Migration” (Castles and Miller, 2009). As most migrants eventually find work in the new country in which they have moved, migration should be of particular interest to researchers and practitioners in international business and management (IOM, 2020). International business and management scholars have mainly focused on the specific subcategory of expatriates. However, other migrants (e.g., refugees of any skill level; self-initiated skilled and unskilled economic migrants) do not get access to the same kind of support as provided by multinational companies to expatriates. Refugees must rely on services offered by government or aid organisations for healthcare, education, and mentorship (Cheng et al., 2015). Only in recent years have international business and management researchers started to show interest in the other subcategories of migrants (e.g., refugees and skilled migrants) to investigate their implications not only at an individual and social level, but also at the organisational level (Hajro et al., 2021). Companies are interested in hiring migrants to be able to enter diverse markets and reach a diverse range of customers, as well as to obtain local resources, and to share information across national borders (e.g., Hajiro et al., 2017a;). However, migrants face various challenges, mainly related to corporate ethnocentrism, social discrimination, and inadequate integration policies. Lee, Yoshikawa, and Harzing (2022) suggested that ethnocentric staffing practices in multinational companies have led workers to show favouritism towards their own national ingroup and create distance with other workers belonging to a different nationality (i.e., outgroup). According to Hajro et al. (2017a), as migrants cannot cope with these issues using rational problem-solving strategies, they develop emotion-focused strategies to remain positive and continue the integration process. It seems that, although companies try to integrate skilled migrants, company policies may still fail to integrate them, thus leading to negative effects for the organisation and working teams. As promoted by various national and international bodies, well-being in the workplace is a business priority (see for example, McCain & Sen, 2021). Therefore, further research is needed to investigate staffing policies and practices implemented by multinational companies to manage migrant workers, to identify the motivations of organisations to hire migrants, and to establish how these motivations may affect the wellbeing of immigrants (Hajro et al., 2021) and that of the wider workforce. Drawing on social identity theory and symbolic structural interaction theory, we argue for an interdisciplinary approach which incorporates research on diversity and inclusion climates for well-being into our notions of human resource management in the MNC. The Role of Diversity and Inclusion Climates in the Workplace One of the potential job-related outcomes of diversity climate is employees’ wellbeing (Ward et al., 2020). According to the social identity theory and symbolic structural interactionism theory, people associate themselves with an identity group based on demographic characteristics and tend to negotiate these identities through interactions with other people and institutions in society (Stryker, 1980; Tajfel and Turner, 1986). Such negotiations appear to lead minorities to understand their disadvantageous position within society due to the discrimination they experience (Utsey et al., 2002). As discrimination negatively affects the wellbeing of minorities, creating a working environment that promotes diversity should reduce the experience of discrimination and promote their wellbeing (McKay et al., 2007). Companies that act against discriminatory behaviour and that promote a positive diversity climate can foster wellbeing in both groups and throughout the entire organisation (Boehm et al., 2014). Furthermore, the acculturation process can be supported by a positive diversity climate in the workplace (Volpone et al, 2018); minorities show higher wellbeing as a consequence of a positive climate for diversity (Hofhuis, Van der Zee, Otten, 2012). Yet, it is believed that diversity climate is not enough on its own and organisations also requires the creation of a climate for inclusion to properly value the diversity of employees and foster their wellbeing (Guillaume et al., 2014). A climate for inclusion consists of shared perception of inclusion in decision making processes, information networks, informal and formal activities of all groups with any background (Nishii, 2013). A climate for inclusion does not only value employees, but also respects and empowers them (Guillaume et al., 2014). Several studies support the existence of a relationship between the perception of being included within the organisation and psychological wellbeing (Greenglass, Fiskenbaum and Burke, 1996). In other words, the extent to which employees are accepted and included rather than rejected and excluded by colleagues is crucial for their wellbeing (Leary and Downs, 1995). Therefore, it could be said that diversity climate and climate for inclusion could both contribute in different ways to workforce wellbeing. We ask “How is the well-being of different classes of employees (highly skilled versus less skilled; migrant versus non-migrant) supported by diversity and inclusion climates?

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