Sub-theme 50: Inclusive Organizations and Knowledge Workers Mobility

Liudvika Leišyte
TU Dortmund University, Germany
Vilmantė Kumpikaitė-Valiūnienė
Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania
Christine Teelken
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Call for Papers

Today as never before, internationalization and immigration have become prominent policy domains throughout the world. In knowledge economies, talented knowledge workers are a primary, but sometimes scarce, resource (Ciarniene & Kumpikaite, 2005). In this sense, many studies emphasize highly skilled migration in the context of brain drain, brain gain, and brain circulation (Ackers, 2008, Dumont & Lemaitre, 2005). In this context, global competition for knowledge workers has fostered unprecedented levels of human capital mobility (Silvanto & Ryan, 2014; Zhong et al., 2016). The mobility of knowledge workers, however, has been asymmetrical with clear centers and peripheries, winners and losers – including countries, organizations, and professions. In addition, in policy discourses such as the European Research Area policy documents (Deloitte, 2014), the mobility of knowledge workers is framed as brain circulation rather than brain drain – the reality given unprecedented immigration levels due to wars (political instability), global competition coupled with economic downturns, and aging populations. Significant incidents have periodically ruptured immigration policy making and implementation paths and have necessitated new organizational approaches which address these demographic and economic surprises.
Unfortunately, despite the plethora of career studies regarding mobility trends of medical doctors, lawyers, scientists, and IT professionals (Deloitte, 2014; Guth & Gill, 2008; Mahroum, 2000) – as well as studies of diversity and inclusion in work and organizations in knowledge intensive sectors (Leisyte & Hosch-Daiycan, 2014) – we know very little about the organizational factors facilitating and impeding the integration of knowledge workers as a result of significant economic ruptures and surprises (Ackers, 2005).
Integration of global and local workforces in organizations facing critical incidents may necessitate inclusive, flexible, and open human resource management approaches. Furthermore, the integration of various cultures in the workplace entails a cultural shift where minority voices are heard and included in decision making processes (Kumpikaite & Duoba, 2013; Muir et al., 2015). Studies of inclusive professional organizations (e.g. hospitals, universities) (Teelken, 2015; Trembath, 2016) have shown that a number of factors foster or impede learning in organizations that attempt to embrace the arrival of different cultures and working habits through incoming knowledge workers from other cultures. Unsuccessful efforts to integrate arriving knowledge workers may mean losing out in terms of productivity and creativity, and result in lost opportunities for innovation, as well as lock-in in terms of organizational growth.
Thus, to ensure that attracted knowledge workers thrive and have opportunities to succeed, successful integration is paramount (Silvanto & Ryan, 2014). This includes addressing and discussing cultural differences, communication styles, and meanings of what counts as performance in different sectors and organizations. Furthermore, when different cultures meet, strong differences in gender expectations and roles have to be made explicit and negotiated.
This sub-theme invites empirical, conceptual, as well as theoretical contributions, which address the issue of integration of talented knowledge workers in knowledge intensive organizations and the factors fostering and impeding it in the context of unprecedented surprises coming from the organizational environment. We especially welcome contributions using comparative lenses, including comparisons between countries, sectors, or professions. Papers addressing centers and peripheries in terms of attracting knowledge workers are especially welcome. Furthermore, we invite papers that delve into the sub-organizational as well as organizational levels to understand the mechanisms for inclusion and integration of knowledge workers from different backgrounds in knowledge intensive organizations.
The sub-theme is open to both qualitative and quantitative contributions. The submissions can address some of the following questions:

  • How do knowledge intensive organizations attract talented knowledge workers in different contexts?

  • How can inclusive knowledge intensive organizations be conceptualized?

  • What theoretical framing helps in understanding organizational change processes to foster inclusion and dialogue between knowledge workers from different cultural, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds?

  • What human resource policies foster inclusive culture in knowledge intensive organizations?

  • What mechanisms of exclusion are at play for knowledge workers in locally oriented organizations?

  • What management approaches foster dialogue and learning in knowledge intensive organizations?

  • To what extent do knowledge workers negotiate and adapt to the local organizational expectations?

  • What is the role of intercultural dialogues for thriving knowledge intensive organizations?

  • What are the gender implications for integration of knowledge workers in knowledge intensive organizations?



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  • Ackers, L. (2008): “Internationalization, mobility and metrics: A new form of indirect discrimination?” Minerva, 46, 411–435.
  • Čiarnienė, R., & Kumpikaitė, V. (2005): “Developing knowledge society: New approach to managerial-economic preparation of specialists.” Engineering economics = Inžinerinė ekonomika, 1 (41), 52–58.
  • Delloitte (2014): DG Research and Innovation. Researchers‘ Report 2014. Brussels: European Commission.
  • Guth, J., & Gill, B. (2008): “Motivations in East and West doctoral mobility: revisiting the question of brain drain.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34 (5), 825–841.
  • Leisyte, L., & Hosch-Dayican, B. (2014): “Changing academic roles and shifting gender inequalities. A case analysis of the influence of the teaching-research nexus on the academic career prospects of female academics in The Netherlands.” Journal of Workplace Rights, 17 (3–4), 467–490.
  • Dumont, J.C., & Lemaitre, G. (2005): “Beyond the Headlines: New Evidence on the Brain Drain.” Revue Économique, 56 (6), 1275–1299.
  • Kumpikaitė, V., & Duoba, K. (2013): “Developing core competencies: student mobility case.” In: Procedia social and behavioral sciences. The Proceedings of 9th International Strategic Management Conference. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 828–834.
  • Mahroum, S. (2000): “Highly skilled globetrotters: mapping the international migration of human capital.” R&D Management, 30 (1), 23–31.
  • Muir, M., Wallace, M., & McMurray, D. (2015): “Women on the move: the self-initiated expatriate in China.” Journal of Global Mobility, 2 (2), 234–254.
  • Silvanto, S., & R J. (2014): “Relocation branding: a strategic framework for attracting talent from abroad.” Journal of Global Mobility, 2 (1), 102–120.
  • Teelken, J.C. (2015): “Hybridity, coping mechanisms, and academic performance management: Comparing three countries.” Public Administration, 93 (2), 307–323.
  • Trembath, J.L. (2016): “The professional lives of expatriate academics: Construct clarity and implications for expatriate management in higher education.Journal of Global Mobility, 4 (2), 112 – 130.
  • Zhong, B.-C., Saxton, B.M., & Campell, B.A. (2016): Working with Others, Working with Different Nations: Human Capital and International Teamwork. Paper presented at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM), Anaheim, USA, August 2016.


Liudvika Leišyte is Professor of Higher Education at the Center for Higher Education, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, TU Dortmund University, Germany. Her research focuses on academic work and organizational transformation in the context of changing institutional environments. Liudvika has published four books, a number of chapters in edited books and peer-reviewed articles in a range of higher education and public management journals. She is a member of the editorial boards of ‘Higher Education Policy’, ‘European Journal of Higher Education’, and ‘Acta Pedagogica Vilnensis’, a co-convenor for the Higher Education Network of the ECER conference, board member of the German Higher Education Research Association and the former chair of Female Faculty Network Twente.
Vilmantė Kumpikaitė-Valiūnienė is Professor of Management at the School of Economics and Business, Department of Management, Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania. She is head of a multidisciplinary research group on international migration. Her research interests focus on high skilled migration and self-initiated expatriation based on decision-making theories, human resource and career development. Vilmante has published a number of peer-reviewed articles and chapters in edited books, participated as a presenter and key-speaker in more than forty international conferences over the entire world. She is a member of the editorial boards of ‘Journal of Management and Change’,’ Journal of Economics and Management’, and ‘Journal of Economics, Business and Management’.
Christine Teelken works as an Associate Professor at the VU University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her main research interest lies the field of higher education; she is the link-convenor of the Higher Education Network of the ECER. Her publications appeared in Public Administration and a wide range of Higher Education journals. She is member of the editorial boards of ‘Journal of Change Management’ and ‘European Journal of Higher Education’.