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Employing the Cultural Broker in the Governance of Migration and Integration

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Migrant and ethnic minority staff in the social sector

An innovative methodological and analytical framework was designed to study the role of migrant employees in social sector organisations. It has also served to heighten transnational and multi-level research.


As immigration seems to be making more headlines in recent years, the role the migration social sector has become more important. This reiterates the necessity to examine the practices of these organisations with particular attention to the role of migrant, refugee and ethnic minority staff. An EU-funded project BROKERING (Employing the Cultural Broker in the Governance of Migration and Integration) set out to learn more about the experiences of migrant and ethnic minority staff members and the way in which their knowledge and skills are utilised in third sector organisations. The researcher gathered data from qualitative interviews and documents. The case study countries used were Austria, the Netherlands and the UK. Roughly two-thirds (more than 40) of the total number of interviews were with former refugees from a diverse set of countries, including former Yugoslavia, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Chechnya, and Somalia. Interviews with the staff members addressed their trajectory, knowledge and relationships with ‘clients’, colleagues and volunteers. Results showed that the migrant third sector has become an important labour market niche for well-educated refugees and other migrants and ethnic minorities who face difficulties gaining adequate access to the labour market due to factors such as discrimination and language barriers. What is needed is a deeper appreciation of the kinds of knowledge this staff can bring, beyond linguistic skills. This research will be useful in opening and expanding conversations about diversity and can help to increase diversity at coordination and management levels. Also, it can raise awareness among managers, especially in the public sector, and assist policymakers in the fields of refugee employment.


Ethnic minorities, migrant employees, migration crisis, refugees, diversity, brokerage

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