April 27, 2017

10:00-11:00 a.m.

Please note: This event is for invited researchers only.

The Meaning of Meaningful Help: Getting Refugees to Self-Sufficiency

Talk description:
Winnie Jiang will present early findings from an in-process study examining how individuals with limited human and social capital find employment and achieve self-sufficiency. Focusing on the experiences of 60 recently resettled refugee families and their interaction with their resettlement agency (Refugee and Immigrant Services, or hereafter, “RISE”) in a northeastern city in the US, Jiang collects longitudinal data using archives, interviews, and surveys. She finds that RISE provides financial and social support but also applies financial and social pressure to facilitate refugee clients’ job searches and their transition to self-sufficiency. Refugees find employment mainly through the help of RISE and friends of the same national and cultural origins. Survey findings indicate that those demonstrating higher self-reliance have more friends, report stronger motivation to learn English, and receive more help from RISE. However, refugees who successfully find employment report feeling more loneliness, lower community belongingness, and lower satisfaction with control over their lives compared with refugees who have not found jobs. Interview and survey data suggest that refugees feel compelled to do poorly paid and physically demanding work. Jiang’s findings raise important questions about the tensions inherent in resettlement efforts to help refugees achieve both short-term and long-term self-sufficiency. She considers the implications of systems in which a focus on immediate success overtakes a focus on broader-based well-being.

Winnie Jiang is a doctoral student of Organizations and Management at Yale University. Her current research focuses on understanding how individuals negotiate challenges in and derive meaning from their career pursuits and daily work lives. She is especially interested in examining the work experiences of those from marginalized groups to enable learning for both individuals and organizations in order to alleviate inequality and promote upward mobility. She also studies individuals’ employment experiences as they move across organizational, occupational, and/or national boundaries. To answer these research questions, she employs both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in unique social contexts.

Research is the heart of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS), and we want to make sure that we support each other in developing high quality research. To that end, we created the Adderley Positive Research Incubator for sharing and encouraging POS-related research ideas that are at various stages of development.

Learn more about the Adderley Positive Research Incubator here and direct questions about individual sessions to Julia Lee at jooalee@umich.edu.