Realist social theory and skilled migrants’ reflexive career projects

Andrew Kozhevnikov, Steve Vincent, Tracy Scurry, Wolfgang Mayrhofer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


International migration of skilled individuals is becoming increasingly important in “the context of skill shortages, aging population, and decreasing fertility rates” (Al Ariss et al., 2012, p. 93). Scholars and policymakers agree that nation states and organisations alike are entering the global ‘war for talent’ (Faulconbridge et al., 2009). Yet, attracting migrants and benefitting from their skills is a challenging undertaking, which demands a comprehensive and theoretically-informed understanding of drivers, enablers and obstacles that constitute skilled migrants’ individual experiences, as well as various ways to engage with these factors. Unfortunately, the existing scholarship lacks the benefits of such understanding (Al Ariss et al., 2012). To contribute to this void, this study employs Margaret Archer’s realist social theory (RST) to explore skilled migrants’ career projects. In particular, we pay attention to how different modes of reflexivity guide individuals towards specific types of career of projects and how realisation of these projects is conditioned by wider socio-cultural mechanisms. This paper makes a contribution to the boundary-focused scholarship (Inkson et al., 2012), as reflexive career projects entail distinctly different relations with boundaries. It also contributes to the long-lasting problem of theorisation of career studies (Mayrhofer, Meyer, & Steyrer, 2007), suggesting a novel framework for thinking about careers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event2019 Academy of Management Annual Meeting - Boston, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201913 Aug 2019


Conference2019 Academy of Management Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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