Identity Implications of Global Career Mobility


This project investigates and follows a range of global career paths which are becoming part of the wider globalization phenomenon. While there has been some growing attention in the literature on the rise of global careers, mainly focusing on the implications for organizations and their HRM practices, this study takes a particular interest in the identity implications of global career mobility, which can be defined as the effects on people’s sense of self as they deal with constantly changing social environments, multiple local and global attachments, as well as ethical questions in terms of how to engage responsibly with one’s immediate social environment. More concretely, the project addresses three different research questions that will be explored along three individual papers.

The first paper investigates how global professionals, who move from country to country, are able to transform their experience of constant mobility into a source of identity stability rather than fragmentation. For this, the paper draws on the concept of perpetual liminality (Ybema et al., 2011), which has so far been framed rather negatively in the literature as infusing uncertainty, anxiety and stress in people’s lives. This paper challenges, however, that liminality is inflicted upon today’s employees by outside forces, namely by showing the ‘moving on narratives’ through which global professionals actively co-produce this condition which prevents identity closure and allows them to re-invent themselves when moving to a new country. Moreover, by exploring the “mobile home making practices” of global professionals, the paper suggests that even in hyper-mobile lifestyles, people reproduce well-rehearsed routines and practices which allow them to check in and out swiftly of any new setting.

The second paper explores the seemingly paradoxical interplay between global career aspirations and a local sense of belonging among global professionals. In the literature, global professionals have mostly been described as being internationally oriented with weak local affiliations. It has even been argued that by living across different environments, they acquire cultural reflexivity which compels them to seek identity through ‘non-belonging’. This paper questions the notion of ‘non-belonging’, namely by exploring the identity relevant attachments of global professionals which appear to be both global as well as local. By analyzing this finding through cosmopolitan theory and the notion of ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’ (Appiah, 1998) in particular, the paper opens up a discussion on what a globally oriented career path can imply for how people arrive at a hybrid sense of self (Van Laer and Janssens, 2014) that combines international work aspirations and a local sense of belonging.

The third paper sets out to challenge elite and abstract framings of cosmopolitanism as a normative-philosophical commitment to ‘world citizenship’, where a cosmopolitan lifestyle is considered ‘superior’ to ‘narrow-minded’ local orientations. Instead, the paper aim to develop a socio-critical understanding of cosmopolitanism in the context of global career mobility which embraces the local rather than detaching itself from it, namely by theorizing the everyday interactions of global professionals within their local communities as an ethics of care towards the Other. This socio-critical framing contributes to a conceptualization of cosmopolitanism as an ethical responsibility enacted in everyday relational practices rather than a prescriptive moral philosophy.

Empirically, the project will be based on the career narratives of 30 global professionals who – over the past few years – have worked and lived for a considerable time in at least three different countries outside of their country of origin. Research participants are chosen from two different working contexts that are illustrative of such high levels of global career mobility, namely business and academia. By not only interviewing research participants (on several occasions), but also shadowing some of them in both their work and their private sphere of life, the study provides a nuanced understanding of what a globally oriented career path implies for how people make sense of their identities in light of their unremitting mobility.
Assuming that the increasing globalization of careers will not come to a halt in the near future, the study’s investigations will be of great value for scholars, practitioners, and maybe even the wider public for better understanding the complex dynamics that are induced by an ever more mobile working reality.

Additional Informationsunspecified
Commencement Date1 May 2017
Contributors Hoyer, Dr. Patrizia (Project Manager)
Datestamp 30 May 2017 12:11
Completion Date 30 April 2019
Publications Hoyer, Patrizia: Global career mobility: Turning perpetual liminality into a source of stability. 2017. - 77th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. - Atlanta.
Hoyer, Patrizia: Global careers, local belonging: How cosmopolitan ideals are enacted in everyday practices. 2018. - 13th Organization Studies Workshop. - Samos, Griechenland.
Hoyer, Patrizia: Globale Karrieren für alle? Fluide Identitäten, Barrieren und gesellschaftliche Verantwortungen. 3. St. Galler Diversity & Inclusion Tagung. St. Gallen, 28 August 2019.
HSG Profile Area SHSS - Kulturen, Institutionen, Maerkte (KIM)
Keywords Global career mobility, identity, perpetual liminality, rooted cosmopolitanism, career narratives
Methods Interviews, Shadowing
Funders HSG – Grundlagenforschungsfonds (GFF)
Id 247419
Project Range HSG Internal
Project Status ongoing
Project Type habilitation project
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