Crossing national boundaries: A typology of qualified immigrants career orientations

Jaime Alfonso Bonache Pérez, Jean Luc Cerdin, Jelena Zikic

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


This qualitative study examines objective-subjective career interdependencies within a sample of 45 qualified immigrants QIs in Canada, Spain and France. The particular challenges in this type of selfinitiated international careers arise from the power of institutions and local gatekeepers, the lack of recognition for QIs foreign career capital, and the need for proactivity. Resulting from primary data analysis, we identify six major themes in QIs subjective interpretations of objective barriers: Maintaining motivation, managing identity, developing new credentials, developing local knowhow, building a new social network and evaluating career success. Secondary data analysis distinguishes three QI career orientations-embracing, adaptive and resisting orientations-with each portraying distinct patterns of motivation, identity and coping. This study extends the boundaryless career perspective by providing a more finegrained understanding of how qualified migrants manage both physical and psychological mobility during selfinitiated international career transitions. With regards to the interdependence between objective and subjective career aspects, it illustrates the importance of avoiding preference to one side at the neglect of the other, or treating the two sides as independent of one another. Practical implications are proposed for career management efforts and receiving economies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-686
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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