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Migrant Integration LAB a Transnational pattern



"A welcoming culture is one that contributes by helping migrants, newcomers and their families overcome obstacles in all areas of life while also providing targeted employment and business start-up assistance”.


1)What is Transnationalism?


Definitions vary, but generally center on exchanges, connections and practices across borders, thus transcending the national space as the primary reference point for activities and identities.The concept of transnationalism is a relatively new one in that it seeks to capture the frequent and durable participation of migrants in the economic, political, and cultural lives of their home countries — a phenomenon only made possible by advances in transportation and communication technologies over the past two decades that were unavailable to previous generations of migrants. (Alvaro Lima, 2010)


Transnationalism varies across and within groups with significant differences in the scope and range of transnational activities. Nor does it prevent migrants’ integration into their new communities. In reality, researchers have found that the more integrated a migrant or an immigrant is, the more transnational he or she is likely to be. Professor Alejandro Portes (2007) found, for example, that it is the better educated and the more comfortably established migrants who are the most likely to engage in transnational activities.


The first and foremost reason why transnationalism deserves attention is its sheer growth in recent years. Its existence is highly relevant to the modern workings of global cities.

Therefore, a transnational framework gives policymakers a new lens with which to develop innovative public programs, and public-private partnerships across borders. And because of the economic implications of transnationalism, it provides opportunities for businesses, social entrepreneurs, and governments.


Traditional Lenses: (Source Alvaro Lima)

  • immigration conceptualized as a bi-polar relation between sending and receiving countries (moving from there to here);
  • emigration is the Result of individual search for economic opportunity, political freedom, etc.;
  • migrants are assumed to be the“tired, the poor, and the huddled
  • masses”immigrants occupy low-skilled jobs in agriculture, construction, and manufacturing
  • (im)migrants steadily transfer their contextual focus, and their economic and social activities to receiving country;
  • immigration should not bring about significant change in the receiving society.

The advantages of Transnational Lenses:

  • immigration conceptualized as flows of cross-border economic, political, and social-cultural activities (being here and there);
  • emigration is the result of geopolitical interests, global linkages, and economic globalization;
  • migrants are not the poorest of the poor nor do they come from the poorest nations;
  • growth in the service and technology-based industries create opportunities for low- as well as high-skilled migrants;
  • after the Initial movement, migrants continue to maintain ties with their country of origin;
  • immigration creates Hybrid societies with a richer cultural milieu.


The range of activities that transnationalism comprises provides an alternative and, some argue, an especially promising route for migrant and immigrant wealth creation through entrepreneurship and employment (Portes, 2010).

2) Migrants Entrepreneurs and transnationalism


In the era of an information-led and service-based economy, countries have become vigorously dependent on creative entrepreneurs who can successfully integrate creativity into production.

Migrant entrepreneurs are taking risks, generating ideas, and exploring the possibilities of converting them into innovations.


Authors have recognized changing migration patterns: today, migration can be temporary or permanent, short-term or long-term, or consist of a series of multi-stage itineraries including back to the point of origin. Through so-called new wave of “chain migration,”, where migrants from one particular region or city in one country move predominantly to one particular region or city in another country, often help the faster development of networks (IDM, 2010). This is another way of looking at the typology of transnationalism based on their group behavioral characteristics.


Recent research also observed the emergence of two more types of migrant entrepreneurs based on the triggers of founding an enterprise in the host country. There are necessity entrepreneurs and opportunity entrepreneurs. It is necessary to distinguish between necessity entrepreneurs and opportunity entrepreneurs because of their different effects on the economic development (Newland Kathleen, Hiroyuki Tanaka, 2010).


“Necessity entrepreneurs” start small businesses because they could not find suitable opportunities in the labour market, and thus, have small impact on economic development. They are the kind who starts a business to sustain their livelihood to avoid unemployment. They have a lower level of social capital and social network and fewer opportunities for starting a business.


Business operations do not require higher level of education and start‐up costs are not too high and are usually realized in the sectors saturated with competition and would yield low profits. Therefore, these businesses have to concentrate on the development of social capital as it is extremely important for



This kind of self- employment brings value to the founder entrepreneur and their employees as their survival is depended on this, but does not affect broader economic development.

“Opportunity entrepreneurs” are those entrepreneurs who recognize and use advantages of new market opportunities and will have a positive impact on the economic growth of the country of origin.


This kind of entrepreneurship emerges in particular, with highly skilled migrants (not necessarily always with college education), specialized in demanded and new sectors, those who can take best advantage of new markets and also generate profits in the countries of origin. These entrepreneurs have the advantage of a strong social capital and a broader social network, which makes the business flourish more competitively.


Chen and Tan, (Wenhong Chan, Justin Tan, 2009) , introduced the concept of “glocalized networks”-a network characteristic that is especially relevant to transnational entrepreneurships but has not received much attention. The term “glocalization” is used to capture the multiple outcomes of the interaction between the local and the global. Glocalised networks are the source of social capital that enables the process of discovering and acting on opportunities in the international market. The transnational entrepreneurs can contribute both economically and socially, while they can develop and maintain ties with family members, communities, institutions, and governments in the country of origin.


Development of transnational businesses across countries can lead to the economic progress based on knowledge and innovation and strengthen the nation‟s competitive advantage in the global market, as migrants are more likely to take risks and indulge in high risk or newly emerging markets. (Tanja Pavlov, JelenaPredojević‐Despić, Svetlana Milutinović Brikena Balli, EldisaZhebo, KostaBarjaba, Bernard Zeneli, 2014).


Exerpt (Le Guern Petrache MIL):

Migrant Integration Lab (Petrache Le Guern) is cultivation a thriving ecosystem for social innovation and more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive communities. By empowering, training and accompanying migrants Migrant Integration Lab is facilitating integration, develop work insertion, entrepreneurship and help elaborate livelihood projects. As a result we obtain not only an increased productivity, a robust economy through an expanded base of workers, consumers, taxpayers, and migrant entrepreneurs, but also Global Competitiveness, expanded through a multi-lingual, multi-cultural workforce and the revitalization of declining communities.


Tomorrow’s Migrants Entrepreneurs: Why does a Migrant becomes an entrepreneur?

Because entrepreneurship can be an engine to sustainable economic growth, numerous studies speculate on what factors compel someone to become an entrepreneur. The common reasons why a migrant, or anyone, might attempt entrepreneurial activity are: cultural and personal predispositions, a regulatory environment supportive of entrepreneurship, if they have commercially viable business idea, access to capital and alternative employment options. These factors can have particular implications for migrants and explain why they often become entrepreneurs.


If a migrant comes from a more entrepreneurial culture, he may be more likely to start a business than natives in his host country. Hout and Rosen found that while being an immigrant increases rates of self-employment, immigrants with self-employed parents are no more likely to become entrepreneurs than other immigrants. This suggests the migrant effect may be stronger than the parent effect. There may also be some selection bias amongst migrants. Many migrants (particularly foreign students and labour migrants) left their home country, often in pursuit of better economic opportunity. So they are by definition more ambitious, independent and less risk averse than many of their counterparts who stayed in their native country.


Access to a cohesive social network also tends to spur entrepreneurship. Migrants tend to form tight social networks with fellow nationals. These networks can facilitate entrepreneurial activity by providing capital, support, knowledge and a supply or customer base. Mentoring, access to sufficient capital and a reliable supply and customer base are often key factors in the decision to undertake an entrepreneurial endeavour. These networks can also make up for the fact that migrants often do not have the contacts and local understanding of regulations and culture that natives often do. Social networks have been known to enhance business relationships and encourage trade.


For low-skill immigrants a lack of other employment opportunities might drive entrepreneurial activity. Migrants typically have lower rates of employment, labour-force participation and earn lower wages than natives. This is often due to language barriers, employers’ inability to recognise foreign credentials, lack of contacts in the domestic market (so migrants do not hear about job opportunities or obtain references) and racial or ethnic stereo-typing. Entrepreneurship circumvents these obstacles.


The new venture can even provide jobs for other migrants, facing the same challenges. According to Oliveria and Rath (2008), a structural shift away from unskilled labour in the 1970s and 1980s, which decreased the number of unskilled jobs available, can account for much of the increase in migrant entrepreneurship in Europe. Unskilled migrants, left with few other job options, became more likely to start their own business.


The nature of regulation in the host country also can influence a migrant’s decision to become an entrepreneur and how successful they are at it. Klapper, Laeven and Rajan (2006) conducted a cross-country comparison and found entrepreneurship levels can largely be explained by different institutional regulations across European countries. Regulations impose higher costs to starting a business. For example: due to prohibitive institutional barriers, Italy has had lower firm birth rates than the United Kingdom, France or Germany. These costs may be even higher for migrants because they are more likely to be unfamiliar with the laws and regulations in their host country.


It seems that foreign migrants often pursue entrepreneurial activities. This can include many types of firms: from ones which employ only a few workers and have limited growth potential to firms that grow quickly, creating many new jobs and everything in between. How these firms may fare and provide for migrants varies across countries and their regulatory framework. Thus it is important to understand how successful these firms are, the challenges they may face and what scope exists for policy makers to aide their success. Migrant-founded firms often face high rates of mortality, provide limited income and may be even more vulnerable to the recession than firms founded by natives. Yet, self-employment may offer a viable alternative if the migrant is shut out of the traditional labour market and contributes a non-trivial amount of economic activity in the host country.


It would be particularly interesting to understand the contribution of migrants to innovation and high-growth firms. Because innovation is one of the key components to sustainable growth and job creation, a better understanding of the relationship between migrants, high-growth firms and innovation would be useful to policy makers.


Migrants may be a source of job creation rather than taking a limited number of jobs from natives. But once in the host country, they need support to gain access to capital, learn the language and deal with regulatory hurdles. These constraints do not necessarily only apply to low-skill migrants. Even high-skill migrants have had difficulty obtaining capital and negotiating local regulations. “


3) Transnationalism, Hybridity, Language Learning & Education“Education enables children and youth to thrive, not just survive.”


Migrant learners participate and exchange economic, social, and cultural capital have become much wider and more complex. They can no longer be understood just as migrants on a local or national scale. Traversing deterritorialized spaces, where culture transcends geographical demarcations (Appadurai, 1990), they operate as transnationals who are able to maintain ties with their home country, while building new relations within their host or adopted country. For migrants who are language learners, such transnationalism offers new sets of opportunities for language teachers.

To help expand possibilities for migrant language learners, education needs to be able to recognize and harness the transnational identities of migrants; identities that have been constructed by particular material conditions and histories. By going beyond the frames of a romanticized multiculturalism or a deterministic view of migration, teachers can develop literacies and classroom practices that take into account:

  • the modes and degrees of affiliation of migrant language learners with their country of origin;
  • the material conditions of these learners in their country of settlement, and
  • the extent to which the interplay of these two shape their ways of thinking and learning, their degrees of assimilation, and their investment in learning. 

As a social practice, language learning is implicated in relations of power (Norton, 2013).Identity, being a person’s sense of self and relation to the world, is understood as dynamic, multiple, diverse and even contradictory. It is a continual site of struggle, as language learners navigate through different contexts of power, where some subject positions may be in conflict with others. When migrant language learners speak, they do not just exchange information, they also reorganize a sense of who they are and how they relate to the world. Frequently, they seek to construct identities that would allow them to gain legitimacy in the spaces they occupy.


They invest in learning because they know that they will acquire a wider range of symbolic and material resources, and these social and economic gains in turn enhance the range of identities they can claim in a particular community. In the workplace, for instance, the migrant who struggles with the target language may either be refused entry into the network of power or feel inadequate in the presence of the target language speaker who possesses the capital of fluency and local knowledge.


To understand how migrant language learners enact and develop their competencies, we need to examine the process through a lens where ideology and identity intersect, and where learners are recognized as social actors who have the capacity to navigate through multiple, sometimes competing, ideologies. As they operate in these transnational, trans-ideological spaces, they are positioned in multiple ways, and the linguistic practices they bring with them are assigned different values. By understanding their sociopolitical contexts and the structural forces they contend with, we can better understand how they appropriate language to claim power (De Costa, 2010).


Recognizing the hybridity of languages and cultures that transnationals possess, Bhabha (1994) speaks of a Third Space in which one no longer needs to rely on the binaries of home or host countries. In this space, the communicative practices of transnationals interact using different languages and communicative codes, and become transidiomatic practices that are available in a range of communicative channels, both local and distant (Jacquemet, 2005).


As migrant learners possess insights about being part of a community that goes beyond nation-state boundaries, transnational literacies can thus allow them to understand local, national and global issues, and engage with empathy and sensitivity with people of diverse, often underprivileged backgrounds.


4) Policies -acting and thinking transnationally

If traditional assimilation theories (and their neo-assimilationist versions) treat transnationalism and integration as opposing processes, contemporary transnational theorists understand these processes in terms of multiple combinations of transnational and integrative practices (Morawska, 2004). That is, transnationalism and integration are simultaneous processes in which migrants and immigrants forge relationships with sending and receiving countries, with integration reinforcing transnationalism and transnationalism creating a basis for successful integration (Portes, Escobar, & Arana 2008).


Transnationalism, in this view, offers a viable mechanism for bypassing market constraints and nativist prejudice (Portes, 2001). It facilitates and is part of the process of integration, not a step prior to integration or total “assimilation.”Present-day policies, at the national and local levels, while displacing conventional assimilation models for multicultural ones, still do not take into consideration the transnational character of migrant life.


Integration should represent overlapping relationships. Migrants and Immigrants become part of the receiving country and its institutions, and transform them, while simultaneously maintaining and strengthening their ties to their countries of origin (Itzigsohn & Giorguli Saucedo, 2002; Levitt, 2001a; Morawska, 2003). In this sense, transnational integration is quite different from multiculturalism. The latest one, only acknowledges the presence of migrants, immigrants (and minorities) and tries to accommodate their specific cultural needs and differences in a largely ad hoc manner (consult Favell, 2001).We would like to distinguish between a structural and a social-cultural dimension of integration. The structural dimension can be defined as the full participation of migrants in the central institutions of the host society, particularly the educational system and the labor market.


Social and cultural integration accounts for migrants and immigrants ability to adapt to the host society’s prevailing moral standards and values at the same time as they change them, creating hybrid cultural systems. (Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco/1999 points out that “in the global era, the tenets of unilineal assimilation are no longer relevant. Today there are clear and unequivocal advantages to being able to operate in multiple cultural codes, as anyone working in a major corporation knows. (There are social, economic, cognitive, and aesthetic advantages to being able to transverse cultural spaces.)


The challenge today, is to put in place policies that will insure successful integration while benefiting both the countries of residence and origin. Policy making therefore should move away from assimilationist frameworks. Instead, the policy emphasis should be on working with countries of origin to achieve sustainable integration (and re integration in the case of return immigration.)


Consequently, we have to put integration (and re-integration) on the agenda of bi-lateral, multilateral, and international dialogues. We should think and act transnationally.

Because of the increased presence and dominance of transnational activities shaping the daily lives of both ( im)migrants and their communities (both in the receiving countries and countries of origin), there are a number of general implications that can be summarized into five strategic principles: (Alvaro Lima 2010)


• Portability: As transnational immigrants move from place to place it is essential that they be able to “carry” with them their various professional certifications, health insurance, retirement plans, etc. Portability of economic and social benefits is key to immigrant transnational life.


• Transferability: Besides being able to “carry” their credentials, records, and ben-efits, they must be transferable that is, recognized at both the place of origin and destination. In practice, transferability should be universal as it is more and more in the spheres of commerce and finance.


• Visibility: Though the activities of transnational ( im)migrants, particularly those of transnational immigrant entrepreneurs, have significantly contributed to the revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods. They remain buried under “ethnic” and “minority” classifications and are invisible to policy makers, business leaders, and nonprofit organizations.


• Hybridity: Nation-states, both those that serve as countries of origin and those that serve as receiving countries, have to adapt to transnational realities challenging traditional notions of national identity and belonging. Transnational communities create hybrid cultures (Canclini, 2001). The ideal of a nation-state “containing” its people via the commonalities of linguistic, cultural, and ethnic ties no longer applies.


• Translocality: The concepts of “local community” and “local development” must be redefined in terms of relationships and flows instead of semi-autarchic geographies to allow for transnational behaviors.

5) What may be the Advantages?


Migrants in countries of destination can develop and maintain ties with family members, communities, institutions and governments in the countries of origin, and vice versa, while contributing economically and socially to both societies.Transnational connections created by migrants can become vehicles for social and cultural exchanges between societies through, for example, an enrichment of arts, music, films, entertainment and cuisine, promotion of tourism, diffusion of alternative medicine, or exchanges at the level of education and research.


Transnational exchanges can of course also be economic in nature, including remittances as well as investment and trade in specialized goods and services.

Migrants may also influence predominant ideas in home and host societies in more subtle ways, for instance by spreading different views about social and political norms and practices in their countries of origin, or by creating a better understanding of different cultures in their society of destination. They and their families may experience their transnational existence as a source of personal enrichment and development. Concretely, educational, professional and lifestyle opportunities and language abilities can be enhanced.


More abstractly, a broadened horizon and the ability to navigate between different cultures can be very rewarding. These are but a few of the many opportunities presented by transnationalism. Different contexts need to be considered in tailoring migration policies to enhance the positive aspects of transnationalism for migrants, their families and societies of origin and destination.

In conclusion, the question of whether public policy can address the needs of local integration can be answered along the following lines. Integration processes are too complicated to locate policies in one place alone.


It is necessary to distinguish between levels of governance and formulate policy responses where they are needed; seize opportunities where they arise or originate. Ideally, these responses are complementary: addressing the economic, social, cultural and civic sides of integration; considering the local, regional, national and international dimensions of it; and dealing with its social and legal aspects.


Yet, policy perspectives of both sending and receiving countries either misinterpret or ignore migrants’ transnational orientations (Bauböck, 1998). Considering a transnational framework when designing policies will move us toward policies more in keeping with today’s world. The goal should be to design comprehensive and coherent policies at local levels of governments addressing a broad range of issues in close partnerships with sending and receiving countries, multilateral and international organizations, and civil society organizations.

Diaspora members and groups are key resources and players in this process. Such a policy framework, transnational in nature, is the only way to promote stability, prosperity, and security on a global scale.Transnationalism is a key factor in contemporary migration management. While continued and sustained activities by migrants across borders is nothing new, consideration of how to adapt migration policymaking — traditionally firmly and exclusively focused on the national sphere — to account for and manage transnational connections has yet to be fully realized. Migration policies need to be informed by the realities of transnationalism, both positive and negative, with a view to harnessing the benefits that transnationalism can bring.


While there are undeniable challenges, on the whole, migrants engaged in transnational activities do much to enrich the numerous spaces they occupy. Direct involvement of the various stakeholders, including home and host governments, local authorities, migrants and their families, migrant networks and associations, civil society and the private sector, is vital for strengthened partnerships that create the best outcomes for all concerned.


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