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10 Jul 2023
Brexit may have made it a lot harder for British companies to retain highly skilled migrants.

Originally found at

Brexit may have made it a lot harder for British companies to retain highly skilled migrants. Many migrants feel they need to distance themselves from the United Kingdom, even as others indicated not being affected at all, according to a new study published in the Academy of Management Discoveries. With a growing populist backlash against migration in a number of countries around the world, from Brexit to Trump's rhetoric in the United States, the study provides valuable insight for companies with a high number of migrants among staff.

The study looked at self-initiated expatriates (SIEs), Europeans who came to the United Kingdom of their own choice, and not for a specific job. The authors of the paper found that the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union affected this group in a profound way. "The practical, legal aspects of Brexit are pretty clear. But with this study, we get a first view of how Brexit has shifted how these migrants perceive their British identity," says Tina Miedtank, assistant professor Strategic Human Resource Management at Radboud University and one of the authors of the publication.

Personal affront

The reactions differed quite a bit: some were heartbroken, others considered leaving, while there were also those who felt unaffected. "In our study, we found that there were two key elements that determined how European SIEs felt," explains Miedtank. "The group that identified with the U.K. prior to Brexit saw the vote as an identity threat. They had strongly negative reactions, with many leaving the U.K. literally or figuratively depending on their perceived mobility. Those identifying less with the U.K. had milder reactions, and largely planned to stay put."

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Read the original research in Academy of Management Discoveries.

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