Skilled Migrants Employed in Developed, Mature Economies: From Newcomers to Organizational Insiders

Phyllis Tharenou, Carol T. Kulik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Migrants are a growing segment of the highly educated international workforce, and these skilled migrants (SMs) are critical to the growth of developed, mature economies. SMs frequently report negative workplace experiences antithetical to their integration, raising important questions about how organizations might help these host-country newcomers to transition to become organizational insiders. Our aim is to integrate a broad and multidisciplinary literature and identify opportunities where organizations and managers might intervene to enable a successful socialization process and improve SMs’ workplace experiences. We review the empirical research from 2000 to 2019 for SMs employed in developed, mature economies and focus on the SMs’ workplace experiences postorganizational entry. We employ a three-phase socialization model (anticipatory socialization, accommodation, and adaptation) as our organizing framework to identify SMs’ key challenges and outcomes, consider those challenges and outcomes through a socialization lens, and isolate the challenges and outcomes that characterize each transition point (from anticipatory socialization to accommodation and from accommodation to adaptation). We then use these distinguishing characteristics to recommend activities that organizations can implement at each transition to facilitate SMs’ socialization process. By leveraging the three-phase socialization model to align organizational activities with SMs’ workplace experiences, we extend the field’s understanding of SM socialization (in particular) and of the organizational socialization process (more generally).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1181
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • global mobility
  • organizational socialization
  • skilled migrants


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