Integrationsprozesse internationaler Hochqualifizierter in nordrhein-westfälischen Städten

Imani, Daniela; Pfaffenbach, Carmella Diana (Thesis advisor); Wiegandt, Claus-Christian (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2019, 2020)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2019


Major changes have shaped Germany´s migration policy in the 2000s. These changes are reflected, amongst others, in the liberalisation of immigration opportunities for highly-skilled professionals from third countries. However, the integration of these immigrants and their long-term commitment to Germany has not been discussed for a long time. This was the starting point for two DFG-funded research projects on the integration of highly-skilled professionals, which form the basis of this dissertation. The projects examined how the settling-in processes of highly-skilled migrants take place in different spatial contexts in North Rhine-Westphalia. The focus was on selected occupational groups that belong to the “creative class” and thus play an important role in the global competition for human capital. While the first study examined the integration processes of international academics in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, the second project focused on the integration processes of foreign managers and cultural workers in Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen and Cologne. Since the situation of the accompanying partners strongly influences the migration and integration process, they were also interviewed in the second project. The aim of the two projects was to analyse the settling-in process both from the perspective of the migrants and from the perspective of experts who shape the local framework for settling in. The results of the two research projects show that the integration of highly-skilled migrants into their new professional environment and their new local context is basically successful. Depending on personal and local conditions, this integration takes place with varying intensity. Satisfaction with the professional situation and the establishment of new social networks can be seen as important evidence for this. However, the results also demonstrate that the establishment of new local relationships is particularly successful with multinational and ethnic communities. This underlines the central importance of members of the receiving context with migrant background for the integration of new immigrants. Establishing social contacts with Germans is predominantly evaluated as difficult, both in the private and in the professional context. In addition to language difficulties and limited time resources, this is also due to reservations about immigrants. International highly qualified people (and their accompanying families) continue to experience discrimination and exclusion in their work context, in dealing with the authorities and in their private environment, due to their immigration status. These negative experiences can significantly reduce the willingness to live and work permanently in Germany. This underlines the need of central public actors such as federal and local politicians or employers to advocate more strongly for an appreciative approach to migration and the challenges and opportunities it presents. In addition to the modification of legal framework conditions, the establishment and anchoring of a welcoming culture for (highly qualified) immigrants in society as a whole is a central prerequisite for attracting and retaining highly-skilled international workers in the long term. In recent years, measures have been developed by the Federal Government, numerous municipalities and employers to facilitate immigration and the integration of highly-skilled inter-national professionals. However, these measures are selectively tailored to specific occupational groups. The welcoming culture is aimed in particular at migrants who are said to have economic benefits. The target groups and the offers aimed at these groups differ from city to city. This underlines the importance of the local context for the integration experiences of (highly-skilled) migrants in Germany. However, the results demonstrate that the orientation of a welcoming culture towards selected groups is problematic. Especially those who do not profit from it, such as accompanying partners, highly-skilled professionals in middle positions or freelancers, perceive the selectivity of the welcoming culture, but evaluate it critically and pass on their experiences in global social networks. This is contrary to the efforts of politicians and numerous employers to establish Germany as a location with a practiced welcoming culture.