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Organizing Migrations: People and Knowledge Flows in the Global Economy


The globalization of knowledge work includes the physical migration of millions of skilled guest workers. In three essays on this theme, administrative and payroll records are studied to appreciate the scope and consequences of this activity. In the first essay, the large organizational sponsors of skilled guest workers are identified and an analysis is performed on their guest worker sponsoring activities. A positive relationship between guest worker sponsorship and innovation is supported, although increases in guest workers that change the composition of an organization's workforce are linked with labor arbitrage. In the second essay, payroll records from five organizations that sponsor skilled guest workers are analyzed to discern whether institutional barriers to labor mobility restrict the freedom of these workers to switch jobs. While claims of indentured servitude are not supported, the labor market for guest workers is heavily influenced by macroeconomic events. In the third essay, interviews and an analysis of occupations suggest that a framework that separates skill and wage dimensions might better predict the offshoring of skilled knowledge work.

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