From 05.08.2017 to 08.08.20187 there was a ‚Small Research Meeting‘ at the University of Applied Scieneces in Osnabrueck, which was resolved by the Federation of German Psychologists. Scientists form the universities of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Serbia, Slovakia and Germany met for planning the project. The Cooperation from the workshop strived for strengthen the internationalisation, the orientation on Europe and the competiveness of institutions in the research and education sector. As well a promotion of an Innovation Union was encouraged. Thereby the regional cooperation in the society and economy should be strengthen and the cross-border exchange should be ensured. The workshop focused on diversity and intercultural competency as well as on the determination of relevant aspects for the promotion of a positive diversity-culture. Especially, this is important in the context of the integration of refugees. For a long time the topic intercultural competency was a niche topic and not relevant for the mainstream-research. But today it is highly topical, amongst others this is conditional by globalisation and internationalisation of organisations and the refugee crises.
At the workshop, which last four days, the partners of the project worked intensively with the topics diversity and intercultural competency. These topics are key skills in the present-days world of work.
In the beginning of the workshop the situation of migrants in the European countries was presented. The comparison of the involved countries showed that migration is a widespread and actually topic in Europe. All of the involved European countries did have contact with refugees.
In the workshop the scientists grabbled intensively with the current challenges of the European economics and society. They want to find innovative approaches for the praxis amongst other for the problems in context of refugee crises.
The question the partners grabbled with was, how individuals can dismantle concerns against diversity and refugees to see diversity as enrichment. Cultural, individual, political, social and religious aspects were discussed. A long-term target of the cooperation is to develop corporate European measures in with regard to refuges and to promote intercultural competency of individuals. The change of attitude and measures for promotion of competencies is focused. The partners assert that the scientists had a common understanding of intercultural and global competency and that they saw this competencies as being key aspects for individuals. But migration and diversity are challenges for the state, the society and the economy. The research had shown, that doubt and distance are the typical first reaction on diversity-conditional changes. In the Czech Republic the seniors are particularly sceptical. They are influenced by media. The scepticism against migrants do not depend on social status or level of education.
In the course of the Small Research Meeting long-term measures should be deduce, that are focused on the development of intercultural competency and the reduction of prejudices against migrants. The corporate research and different measures should change the attitudes and should lay the foundation for a positive European diversity-culture. So the challenges of immigration of refugees and the challenges of interacting with different cultures should be managed. Culture plays a significant role in context of integration of refugees. A special challenge is also the handling withp different religions.
The social, corporative and political handling of the topic refugees is very different in the corporate countries and cultures. For example Serbia placed the focus on a good medical care for the refugees. Especially, a humane treatment is important. Serbia and the Czech Republic did not received many people in the last years. The countries are used as interstation. In contrast 180.000 migrants from China, Rumania, Serbia and the Ukraine did found asylum in Hungary. But all in all in comparison to Germany the east European countries did not received many refugees as being asylum seekers.
The partners discussed about their own experiences with refugees and the challenges of globalisation, digitalisation as well as im- and emigration. The compared the different measures and tried to find culture-adequate approaches for the different problem-areas in the involved countries. The discussion showed that the emigration of high qualitied personal from e.g. Hungary and Serbia to West Europe or Scandinavia is an economic challenge. About 300,000 young people left Serbia in the last years, because they hoped for better changes in the western European countries. The inhabitants of western European countries do have a better income (in comparison to eastern European countries). Besides the labour shortage is higher (in Western Europe) and the infrastructure is better. E.g. in Slovakia the labour shortage is very high and the wages better than in Hungary. So many Hungarian people immigrate to Slovakia.
Another focus of the meeting were placed on the promotion of diversity and intercultural competency e.g. of university graduates and medium-sized companies. This may help to build up a corporate European identity. A result of the workshop is, that the corporate project countries wanted to start a joint research at their universities (in 2018). In each case at least 200 students of the universities were asked about their opinions and attitude towards migrants and refugees. The results will be presented in October 2018.
Diversity and intercultural competency play a central role in context of integration of refugees. Also in different situations of employment intercultural competency (as part of the global competency) of employees is an important factor of success and a key qualification. The economic and political exchange will be supported.
Another part of the workshop were different speeches that were given by the project partner. The topics were versatile and focused on the home country the partner, but all topics were related to intercultural exchange and gave input for the project. Below you will find a short conclusion of each speech.
In comparison to Europe in Germany the diversity-promoting management is low e.g. in companies. At the same time in personnel selection processes the decisions are made free of ethic, culture and social background. So the contact and the cooperation with people of other cultures should be ‘normal’, not special. For variety in the work force argue different factors: marketing, flexibility, creativity, problem-solving competence, personal marketing – all that factors can profit of diversity. Besides the cost can be reduced – this is a very important aspect for companies. In mixed groups (e.g. regarding nationality, age, skills, gender) the results of labour are better. Therefore social competency and intercultural competencies are important (definitions you may find under Competences).
Also in Germany it is normal and not an exception, that people of different family backgrounds work in a company. Especially in the construction industry the percentage of migrants is high, just as in companies of the industrial sector and of trade. However, there are clear differences between east and west: In the west of Germany the employment of migrants is higher (64%) than in the East (38%). All in all, the rate of employment is high but a survey highlighted, that two third of the German companies do not have diversity management or measures for the promotion of diversity. Motivation for the promotion of diversity companies can find in internationalisation. Diversity in the work force can help to develop new markets. The support can be lent with diversity workshops. Also diversity can be determined as a part of strategy. Applications have to make anonymous and different media can support the exchange.
How is the situation of refugees in Germany in special? There is a ‘Q-Programme’ (integration by qualification), which helps better qualified refugees to find a workplace. Also German courses and integration courses were offered as well as a sport programme. Apps for facilitation of entry (e.g. with local information about bureaucratic, speech offers etc.) were developed, besides the access to the health care was offered. But the entry in the German labour market is difficult. A survey pointed up that tolerance, empathy, social competency, communication skills and knowledge about other cultures help to dismantle barriers. They should be work actively on building up and developing this skills.
Serbia did have contact points with refugees of Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo as well of Africa and Asia at an early stage, because of its geographical position. The Balkan route criss-cross the country, so the number of refugees increased very largely in 2014 with the beginning of refugee crises until the Balkan route was closed in 2016. In the last two years the situation levelled off. Five big asylum seekers centres were built, futhermore seven immigration- and emigration-centre [were built]. Currently about 5000 asylum seekers are in the country, for the most part from Afghanistan. 80% of these asylum seekers are men. This is a long-term problem factor.
Another problem is the flight of native population. A big percentage of the persons, that leave Serbia, are young people. They hope for better chances for future in other European countries. Now this people are lacking on the Serbia labour market.
But how are refugees faced in Serbia and which perspectives do they have? The opinions of the inhabitants are split, empathy is shown as well as fear. The social and economic perspective is negative: funds are missing, the unemployment is high as well the criminality and furthermore the black market increases. Thereby the arrival conditions are well, there are well organized and open camps, but continuing measures are missing. The humane treatment of refugees is an absolute must-have for the government, but integration is a foreign word. So the development of the ‘normal’ life is not possible for refugees. They do not get education (e.g. in schools) or offers for speech courses. Also the access to the health care is missing as well as psychological support. Particularly, the missing of psychological support is a big problem. A survey figured out, that about 90% of the refugees would need support. About the half [refugees] have indications of depression, many are traumatised. Offers for defeating trauma should be offered. Also it is important to provide a perspective for the refugees. Integration (either social) and education are important in special. The learning of the speech and the understanding for different cultures lay the foundation for successful integration.
The number of refugees in Latvia is low in comparison with other European countries, but the national territory is slight to. At the Latvian Academy of Sport Education the role of sport in the daily life was explored. The questioning was implemented European-wide. Sport supports the accomplishment of the daily life and to relieve stress as well as to assemble resources for learning. So Sport is an important factor in context of the integration of refugees. The refugees have the challenge of learning a new language as well to integrate in a foreign culture and to find a new social identity. Also they have to overcome the trauma of the flight and to reduce stress. Studies pointed up that sport supports the finding of self-awareness and stability and the organisation of the daily life. Also, the participation at sport groups promotes the integration and helps to find a social network. The corporate activity helps to break down barriers and to make friends.
As said in the description of the project fear and prejudices do exist by elderly people in particular. 2016 a survey was conducted in the Czech Republic that focussed the life conditions of elderly people, the health status, the financial situation and the feeling of living in a safe country. Especially the last point is interesting in relation to elderly people. The seniors were asked to rate some reasons, why they are not feeling safe. One the second position they voted for the reason: ‘I am afraid of the migrants, which came to our country’. More than the half on the participants confirmed that sentence. The evaluation highlighted that this fear did not depend on age, lifestyle, health status and education and that it is spread over all participants. One third of the people, who are afraid of migrants, also specified that they do not feel safe in their country. The study demonstrated that the negative attitude against migrants is influenced by media in a severe way.
It is important to offer measures for the promotion of intercultural understanding for elderly people in particular. So fears and prejudices can be reduced and a common cooperation is possible.
The number of migrants also increased in the Czech Republic. How did the Czech citizen handle with the new people and cultures? Are the attitudes towards female migrants are similar to the attitudes towards male migrants? A study examined the attitudes of Czech students against refugees and migrants. Pictures of European, Middle East and African men and women were showed to the students. They received the order to evaluate these women and men. The results showed that the cultural background played a big role for the evaluation of one person. European people were estimated as being more competent but less warm than the African and Middle East people. Women were estimated as being warmer than men in all cultures.
So the study show that it is also important to promote the understanding and openness of young people (just as same of elderly people) to counteract against stereotypes.
‘Global manager were formed, not born’ (Percy Barvenik) – but which skills do manager need to interact in a worldwide environment? The competence of a manager depends on his knowledge, on the skills and on the personality of each one. The skills communication, problem solving, delegation, organisation, time management and reward of good work are particular important. A manager, who has manager competence, is more successful and an advantage for the company. Trough globalisation today it is usual to lead a multi-cultural team, to interact with people of other cultures and to have knowledge about their market behaviour. The manager has to be awake to the fact that these other people do not have only another language but also other values, rules of business and mind sets. A global manager should have knowledge about other cultures and should accept the foreign value and norms. This should be taken into account when the manager are in contact with people of other cultures.
The composition of intercultural competence is a process, in which you learn something new on every day, in which you notice and accept differences, in which you learn to interact culturally sensible. Manager, who ware intercultural competent, appear open and know about their self-impact in an intercultural context. They are able to judge the behaviour of people of foreign cultures in a right way. Intercultural manager are flexible and emphatic as well as tolerant to diversity. This skills help to make the intercultural contact to an enrichment. Different sets of mind provide new perceptions so problem solutions can be optimized.
Organizations are exposed to a change of different dimensions: there is an increasing globalisation of markets and production locations, also the global trade is risen and the research develops new technical equipment for the markets, which changes work. All in all the competition is growing and the price pressure is increasing. The question where to produce is a question of wages. The conditions are quite different in Europe. In comparison to central Europe the minimum wages of the Eastern Europe countries are low. A Hungary low-wage-worker does get only a third of the normal low-wage in Germany. That is a problem for the Eastern Europe countries: Many workers – especially highly skilled employee – leave the country and travel to a country with higher standards of wages to improve the own situation of life. The staff management gets new challenges. It is important to hold the employees and to provide incentives for them. The mindset ‘Client above all’ is being replaced by the mindset ‘Employee first, client second’.
How is the situation of employment in Hungary? There is an east-west gap. In the West the wages are higher, the infrastructure is better and the unemployment is lower. So the labour shortage is higher than in the East of Hungary. Hungary managed to integrate the migrants to their labour market. The rate of employment of migrants is high (al same as the employment rate of Hungary people). Most of the migrants work in small or medium-sized economic companies.
In comparison the situation of labour market of the neighbour country Slovakia was considered. In Slovakia the labour shortage is much higher. In the last years, many car companies set their productions to Slovakia. It is difficult for these companies to find qualified employees and experienced manager. Meanwhile many Hungary people work in Slovak companies. They commute on their way to work across the border. This process is supported by the higher wages in Slovakia (than in Hungary). Now the Hungary government has to react and try to hold the Hungary workers in their own country. Otherwise the labour shortage will increase.
But how the situation of labour shortage is develop in the long term remains to be seen. Technical innovation, as new autonomy working machines might bring a reversal.
Within a research project the exchange of information is important. So there was another conference in March of 2018 in Brno (the Czech Republic). The main focus was to report about the progress of the project. Three topics were focused:
- Notice in the magazine ‘Political Psychology’
- Status of the surveys
- Status of the calls for the application for Horizon 2020
In the magazine ‘Political Psychology’ there is an article about the research project in the current edition, which appears in July of 2018. The content of the article was determined on the conference just as well who does have the responsibility. The publication helps to draw attention of the public to the project and to find more sponsors and promoters.
Another focus of the conference were the status of the different surveys. Like said in Targets of the project, surveys were conducted in the different project countries. The surveys focused on the topics migration, refugees and attitude of the population to integration. At the time of conference, the partner gave feedback that the data collections were started. The partner determined, that the evaluation of the datas will be done with the statistic programme SPSS. The results can be used to create measures and suggestions for action that are adapted to the beginning conditions of each country.
Furthermore the partner discussed about the third topic for a long time – the concrete title for the application for the Horizon 2020 had to be generated. The point ‘Which profit to we want to have?’ was particular important. In the end they put their focus on the political perspective. By the compilation of a ‘tool kit’ the project partner want to help the governments to push integration and the openness of the inhabitants for migrants. Therefor the analysis of the labour market and the conditions of live in each country is important. Furthermore the partner want to draw attention to the aspect gender and equal treatment. In the course of integration women shall get the same chances like men to receive education and to enter the labour market of the new country.
Finally the responsibilities for the next step of project were allocated (again).