Doing the Business: Variegation, Opportunity and Intercultural Experience among Intra-EU Highly-Skilled Migrants



Focusing on the working experiences of the French highly skilled in London's financial and business sectors, this paper examines the impact of ongoing pan-European variegation on intra-EU highly skilled migration in two key respects: firstly, in its role as a driver for mobility, through its association with divergent opportunity structures across different nations and regions; and secondly, as a potential obstacle to the successful realization of such opportunities, post migration, where mobility exposes the highly skilled migrant to new and embedded forms of difference. Such differences necessitate adaptations, and the acquisition of new inter-cultural competencies, that go on to mediate the experience, evaluations and outcomes of such opportunity-driven mobilities. In unpacking the particularities associated with the mobilities of specific populations (the French), to specific places (London) we seek to contribute to a people and place-sensitive understanding of the relationship between spatial mobility and social mobility.

Policy Implications

  • EU policymakers need to consider the nature and impact of ongoing variegation on highly skilled mobility within Europe and the problems of non-transferability of human capital that this may produce.
  • Highly skilled migration is crucial to sustaining the global talent pool that defines the London economy. Regional interests need to work with businesses and national policymakers to support and develop the opportunities, currently associated with London, for talented migrants to enhance their human capital.
  • Businesses need to enhance the inter-cultural competencies of all staff to facilitate working practices for effectiveness, productivity and fairness.