To read this content please select one of the options below:

Ambiguous practices and conflicting interests: why immigrants end up in uncertain employment

Tone Lindheim (VID Specialized University, Oslo, Norway)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 5 January 2021

Issue publication date: 8 June 2021




The aim of this study is to investigate why many immigrants end up in uncertain employment.


The paper describes a qualitative case study of three nursing homes in Oslo (Norway), which investigates immigrant employment and recruitment-related practices. Practice theory is used as the theoretical and methodological framework. The study takes an ethnographic approach and combines participant observation, semi-structured shadowing, qualitative interviews and document review.


The recruitment practice, as it is accomplished, is different from the practice that is prescribed in the formal recruitment policy. The configuration of the recruitment-related practices locks in the recruitment practice and reproduces the social order. The net effect of the recruitment-related practices is that immigrant employees remain in uncertain employment.

Research limitations/implications

A practice-theoretical approach, analyzing organizational practices as they are accomplished in space and time and not as isolated activities defined by their purpose, provides a richer understanding of the complexity and connectedness of organizational practices. Combining practice theory and institutional perspectives, the paper demonstrates how normative and regulative mediators order and align related practices. The study demonstrates the importance of examining the configuration of practices to understand how the net effect of related practices affects those who dwell in them, in this case immigrants pursuing secure and stable employment.


This study contributes to the field of diversity management by using practice theory to explain why measures for enhancing immigrant employment may not have the intended effect because they are interwoven in a nexus of practices with conflicting interests that (un)intentionally undermine the measures.



The author would like to thank participants at the 13th OS Summer Workshop and EGOS 2018 in Tallinn for helpful comments and inputs on earlier drafts of the manuscript. The author would also like to thank the supervisors Harald, Askeland, Jon Rogstad and Beate Jelstad Løvaas for their guidance in the process. A special thanks to Marta Struminska‐Kutra and Mai Camilla Munkejord for their reading and suggestions at different stages and to other colleagues at VID Specialized University who have given their input and been challenging discussion partners. Thanks to the three anonymous reviewers for thoughtful observations and recommendations.


Lindheim, T. (2021), "Ambiguous practices and conflicting interests: why immigrants end up in uncertain employment", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 542-558.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles