Moving on up? Exploring the career journeys of skilled migrants in the professions

David Sarpong, Mairi Maclean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on the discursive practice turn in social theory, we examine the career journeys of skilled West African migrants based in Britain. While many, especially those from developing countries, may end up in elementary occupations, accounts of their progression into professional occupations remain elusive. Here, we unpack specific transient moments of their career journeys through the lens of ‘microstoria’: the creation and sharing of contemporaneous storylines. These reveal that the ‘way-finding’ practices of skilled migrants into the professions are characterized by four distinct but durationally indivisible transitional phases – which we call ‘Johnny just come’, toe-holding, enrichment-in-practice, and the puissance-lap. Our study provides insights into the career experiences of skilled migrants, elucidating how they make sense of their careers in narrative terms in accessing professional occupations and progressing within these. We conclude with a discussion of our findings and their implications for the theory and practice of international human resource management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3004-3032
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019


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