Migration, sustainable development and the role of PSAA, by Mª Raquel Lucas

Semanário Registo

Migration is a pressing global phenomenon, intertwined with human rights, sustainability, economic development, and geopolitics. It has an undeniable impact on management and important implications for the activities, strategies, structures, and decision-making processes of companies. It is also a challenge for universities, which should not ignore this threshold concept, integrating it into their curricula and reshaping the way academics think about the complex and, in some situations, paradoxical relationships between organizations, states, and civil society.

Migration is a dilemma on many levels. In the labor market, according to the IOM (International Organization for Migration), if on the one hand workers account for about two-thirds of the total number of 281 million migrants in 2021, on the other hand there is a growing shortage of workers. This makes labor migration an important topic for everyone from industries and companies, to host societies where anti-immigration reactions, incidents of xenophobic violence and labor trafficking, and also demonstrations against this trafficking and for the rights of migrant workers converge. The growing demand for labor has also been reflected in policymaking, especially in migrant-receiving countries where these policies have, in some cases, become more restrictive in recent years.

In the media and in political debates, the tension between the demand for migrant labor and the public’s perception of this migration as a problem can be seen.

In research, it is apparent the absence and/or incipiency of multidisciplinary studies that support from a technical and scientific point of view the phenomenon of migration and its impact for management. Above all, it is important to analyze and understand the interrelationships between migration, business, and society, because migration interacts with many other aspects, such as leadership, strategy, ethics and social responsibility, entrepreneurship, and intercultural and human resource management.

At the Sustainability level, as evident in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations Agenda 2030, there is a robust relationship between migration and sustainable development. This relationship depends on the: 1) states that set policies related to the movement of people, balancing them to pressures from other stakeholders, such as the private sector and civil society; 2) industrialists and businessmen requesting reduced barriers to immigration due to labor needs and/or union limitations; 3) human resource recruitment processes and the issues of attracting enough migrant candidates and retaining the hired ones; 4) migrants, when they can make their own decisions about where to work, for how long, and under what conditions.

Hence, accommodating all these issues, including migration in general and the trafficking of agricultural labor in particular, is a concern and, therefore, one of the primary intervention themes under the PSAA (Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program), a project by Olivum – Association of Olive Growers of the South, in partnership with the University of Évora and CONSULAI, for which possible solutions are being sought. These include rethinking and redesigning hiring practices and creating best practice standards for recruiting and hiring labor in general and migrant workers in particular.

This highlights the critical role of the PSAA in helping to solve some of the problems inherent in labor migration and in combating the trafficking of agricultural labor. From a business point of view it matters: 1) distinguish between service companies and temporary work companies; 2) adopt a typology of responsible leadership; 3) reflect on and adjust processes of multicultural identity formation, sense-making, and acculturation, among others; 4) understand how human capital assets are tied to location and accessible to all firms established in that location; 5) understand how migration has changed the balance of human capital advantages specific to the Alentejo. This is because changes in international migration patterns also induce (in some cases unexpected) changes in the competitive advantage of migrant-receiving and migrant-emitting countries and regions.

Business involvement in human resource management and, more specifically, in the migrant workforce thus goes through several intersections, of EU and national policies and business confidence in migrants and the immigration regime, economic, trade and entrepreneurship, multi-sectoral, business and industry with intergovernmental organizations, academia, civil society and global value chains, and socio-cultural, reflecting or reshaping everyone’s attitudes towards the issue at hand. This is because migration is and will continue to be a permanent feature of economic growth and social change, closely related to business, society and sustainability. Hence, the PSAA wants to be at the forefront, giving well-deserved attention to worker migration and all human resource hiring processes.

December 22, 2022


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