Romanian self-initiated expatriates (SIE), specifically, Romanian students that have chosen to study in Denmark, often plan on remaining in the country after they complete their education. “SIEs are those whose international experience is not initiated by an international transfer within an organization but rather is initiated without organizational assistance and of their own accord” (Begley, Collings and Scullion, 2008, p. 265).

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Because English is a commonly spoken second language in Denmark, the adaptability rate of expatriates tends to be high, increasing the attractiveness of the country to SIEs including those from Romania.

There is an increasing demand for mobile and intercultural competent employees with differentiated skill sets (Deloitte, 2012). Further, there are many advantages of a diverse work force, including increased worker satisfaction, productivity and innovation (Peretz, Levi and Fried, 2015, 875).

To better understand the opportunity and the fit between Danish firms and Romanian SIEs educated in Denmark, it is important to define the processes and barriers as well as the benefits and advantages for both parties. This may include factors such as the professional and cultural motives of Romanian SIEs when choosing Denmark as a host country; the way Romanian SIEs are treated in the Danish society and workplaces; and the perception of Danish firms regarding Romanian employees.

2. Research question
The number of Romanian students that relocate to Denmark in order to study and pursue a career has increased by 40% from 2011 till 2015. This represents an interesting opportunity for all stakeholders. In order to better understand the opportunity for Romanian SIE graduates as well as Danish companies there must be greater clarity with regard to outcomes and potential. To achieve this goal, this paper proposes to reveal the benefits and challenges for each stakeholder, including the expectations, skills development, motivation and network of Romanian SIEs (Jokinen et al., 2008, p. 981). This must then be assessed against the perceptions of Danish firms regarding foreign, and in particular Romanian, workers as well as the labor force needs and shortages in the Danish economy.

Romanian SIEs can bring greater diversity to Danish firms while also bridging cultural differences and providing assurances of training and knowledge that reflects Danish workforce needs. The research question of the study has therefore been formulated as follows:

What are the opportunities and challenges for Romanian students who are seeking to work in Denmark after graduating from a Danish university as well as for Danish firms who might hire them?

3. Methodology
This study intends to use mixed methods in order to respond to the research question. The main method for gathering data will be qualitative. Purposive sampling will be used to identify and recruit Romanian SIEs at various stages of adaptation for interviews that reveal the perceived difficulties they have faced and the advantages that they feel they offer to Danish companies. Purposive sampling is preferred to random sampling in this instance because of the various specific needs of the information gathering exercise (Bryman and Bell, 2014). This may include Romanian students in Denmark and their expectations, Romanian graduates of Danish schools, and Romanians that are already integrated in the Danish work market. From this information it will be possible to compile a profile of the Romanian SIE who successfully makes the transition from student to worker in the Danish context. Additional information will be gathered in a literature review in the form of relevant statistics and data regarding predicted and current skilled worker shortages in Denmark and case studies showing the success of diverse workforces in the country. A short survey is being considered as well.

  • Begley, A., Collings, D.G. and Scullion, H., 2008. The cross-cultural adjustment experiences of self-initiated repatriates to the Republic of Ireland labour market. Employee Relations, 30(3), pp.264-282.
  • Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2014). Business research methods. Oxford University Press, USA.
  • Jokinen, T., Brewster, C., & Suutari, V. (2008). Career capital during international work experiences: contrasting self-initiated expatriate experiences and assigned expatriation. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(6), 979-998.
  • Peretz, H., Levi, A. and Fried, Y., 2015. Organizational diversity programs across cultures: effects on absenteeism, turnover, performance and innovation. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 26(6), pp.875-903.