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Career patterns of young highly skilled migrants from Southeast Europe in Austria: Investigating accumulation and use of career capital

Julian Winterheller (Department of Human Resource Management, University of Graz, Graz, Austria)
Christian Hirt (Department of Human Resource Management, University of Graz, Graz, Austria)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 6 March 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Using a Bourdieuian perspective, the purpose of this paper is to analyse how highly skilled migrants (HSMs) from transition economies develop their careers by accumulating and using career capital upon migration.

Design/methodology/approach

An interpretative approach was chosen to depict the career patterns of 18 HSMs from Southeast Europe. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data about their career experiences in Western Europe and their home countries.

Findings

Findings reveal four different career patterns that show how individuals develop their careers and adjust to the work environment by accumulating and using career capital. Building up country-specific work-related social contacts and gaining work experience in local companies were found to represent key elements in their adjustment process. Additionally, the findings show that organisational support facilitates the processes of individual adjustment.

Originality/value

This paper emphasises that individuals do not always have to assimilate to the work environment of the host country but can also bargain over the value of their career capital in their adjustment process. Contrasting with previous literature this perspective presents a novelty.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper forms part of a special section “International mobility of workers: new forms, processes and outcomes”.

Citation

Winterheller, J. and Hirt, C. (2017), "Career patterns of young highly skilled migrants from Southeast Europe in Austria: Investigating accumulation and use of career capital", Personnel Review, Vol. 46 No. 2, pp. 222-236. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-05-2015-0148

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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