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Workplace integration: the lived experiences of highly skilled migrants in Australia

Diana Rajendran (Department of Management, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Karen Farquharson (Department of Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)
Chandana Hewege (Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 19 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore how highly skilled migrants to Australia integrate into the workplace, focussing on the factors that foster or hinder that integration.


An inductive method using an interpretive methodological approach was employed. In-depth interview data were analysed thematically.


Informal workplace practices, such as informal peer mentoring and having an “empathetic” supervisor, also assisted with integration, as did migrant self-help strategies. Factors hindering integration included structural barriers outside the organisation and workplace factors such as racism, cultural barriers and individual factors that centred on the migrants themselves.

Research limitations/implications

While the exploratory qualitative enquiry sheds light on issues of concern regarding workplace integration of skilled migrants, further studies with diverse migrant groups would be required to understand if the findings could be replicated. An industry or sector-wise migrant study would shed more light on the issues.

Practical implications

Fostering and hindering factors identified through the lens of four workplace integration theories can inform workplace integration strategies and related policy formulation.


Informed by four theories of integration, the findings shed light on the everyday workplace experiences of linguistically competent, self-initiated, highly skilled migrants from diverse ethnic/cultural backgrounds in Australian workplaces in a range of industries. While previous research has identified problems experienced by migrants at work, this paper explores factors fostering and hindering workplace integration through the lens of the lived experiences of skilled migrant workers.



Rajendran, D., Farquharson, K. and Hewege, C. (2017), "Workplace integration: the lived experiences of highly skilled migrants in Australia", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 437-456.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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