Organizing Sustainable Workplace Integration for Refugee Migrants


  • Vedran Omanovic
  • Ann Langley


Refugee Migrants, Job Search, Refugee Voices


In this paper the focus is on the processes of labor market integration of people with refugee background by utilizing a novel approach. I focus in particular on how people with refugees background themselves make sense of their experiences associated with encountering, learning and taking an active part in the job search process and getting the first employment in  the host country. By grounding my interpretations and analyses in the voices of refugees I focus on refugee migrants’ interpretations of specific “encounters” that happened in the job search process - between them and the representatives of Swedish organizations and companies, and ask what the results of these encounters have been in terms of their possibilities for getting first employment?

Thus, unlike the majority of the previous management and organizational studies where the focus is prevailingly on managers’ or other elite stakeholders’ stories I shift the analytical focus, by applying the analysis of refugee voices as a method in this paper, arguing that also their voices contain important information about the establishment of refugee migrants onto the labor market in the host-society.

More specifically, in this paper I ask the following research questions:

  • What organizations and individuals are doing, when they are enrolled in refugee migrants the job search process? In short, what do they do, and whether their “doings” are mutually related to each other?
  • What are potential barriers/obstacles and “openings” in the process of

job search and getting first employments - refugee migrants encounter and how these are “navigated”?

Data Collection

The empirical material for this paper is based on biographically oriented interviews with Bosnian and Herzegovinian’s refugees who arrived to Sweden in the early 1990s. The topics in the interviews captured the respondents’ life prior to immigrating to Sweden, the initial period in Sweden (e.g., the period of time spent in refugee resettlement camps, the process of applying for and waiting to receive a residence permit, partaking in Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) courses, evaluating and validating educational qualifications), and the post-receipt of permit process that saw respondents seeking either to begin/continue their studies or to go about securing employment.

In this paper I focus on the respondents’ stories that include their ‘encounters’ regarding the job search process and first employments – as well as the barriers they were perceiving themselves as facing along with the agency exercised to overcome them.

The fieldwork began in autumn 2017 and was completed in autumn 2018.  Respondents were chosen based on my initial personal contacts, and were then gradually expanded by using a snowball technique. A total of 38 interviews were held with respondents whose educational background (secondary school or university), age, occupational profession (e.g., including fields of study in journalism, mechanical sciences, business administration, economics, law, architecture, electrical engineering, as well as political science) and regional place of origin within Bosnia and Herzegovina – varied. Regarding a gender balance - it was an equal number of women and men, among the interviewed respondents. The majority of the respondents were living for in Sweden for more than 21 years, when the fieldwork ended (in autumn 2018).





6.6 Practices of Organizing Migrants' Integration and Diverse Workforce