Retention of International Employees in Copenhagen

Mark Friis Siem & Ida Marie Elgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Organizations are becoming increasingly reliant on international employees to improve competitiveness in the global labor market due to accelerating globalization. Moreover, foreign employees are found to contribute positively to public finances, provide specialized labor to organizations in Denmark and ensure economic growth. Thus, retention of international talents is important for organizations operating in Denmark. Several factors are found to influence the retention of international employees, but especially the creation of social networks has been found to have a significant impact. Yet, this is an area where Denmark has ranked as one of lowest countries on recent global surveys. Therefore, this thesis explores the factors that influence international employee’s ability to create a social network in Denmark. Moreover, this thesis investigates the role that organizations play as well as which factors organizations can manipulate to facilitate the creation of social networks. Existing literature within this research domain highlights the importance of international employees’ ability to create social networks, specifically with Host Country Nationals. Creating social networks were found to help international employees adjust, both to general life in the host country as well as in relation to work-related and social aspects. To answer the research questions presented in the paper, 26 highly skilled employees working in the Copenhagen area were sampled using a maximum variation strategy. The sample consisted of both international and Danish employees who work in international teams. Moreover, an expert interview with Head of Global Talent in the Confederation of Danish Industry, Linda Duncan Wendelboe, and two reports made by Oxford Research with data from expats living in Denmark were included in the analysis to triangulate the findings. A thematic analysis showed that a plethora of factors influenced the degree to which international employees had been able to form a social network in Denmark. The identified factors were grouped on three overall themes; societal, organizational and individual. Findings from the analysis showed that international employees with great ease could create social networks with other internationals, but that significant barriers continue to exist in relation to creating social networks with Danes. Especially, the host country language and lack of cultural training were found to impact the creation of such social networks with Host Country Nationals i.e. Danes. Following the analysis, the role of the organization was discussed and found to have an important role if the organizations wish to retain international talents in the future. Consequently, recommendations were presented in the thesis in relation to the factors that organizations are able to manipulate. Firstly, these recommendations emphasized that organizations can benefit from collaborating with publicly available initiatives for creating social networks. Secondly, the importance of providing language courses and cultural training was confirmed. Finally, it was recommended that the international employees should receive ongoing support from various sources to facilitate social networks, which ultimately would lead to higher retention. As it was confirmed that social networks are pivotal for retention of international employees, it is recommended that more research needs to conducted within this field. Recommendations for future research thus include examining how social networks are created in the highest-ranking countries in the global surveys and whether these findings are replicable to other countries. Moreover, longitudinal and observational studies may uncover nuances that this study could not due to the limitations of the methods chosen.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2019
Number of pages124
SupervisorsDaniel Souleles