The challenge of skilled expatriates from the Indian subcontinent losing intellectual capital in Australia: resolving the crisis of habitus

Syed Mohyuddin, Santoshi Sengupta, Parth Patel, Verma Prikshat, Arup Varma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This article aims to examine the challenges faced by highly skilled expatriates (i.e. professionals and managers) from the Indian subcontinent (i.e. India and neighboring countries) as they attempt to advance their careers in Australia. Extant literature has revealed significant gaps between policies for skilled migration proposed by governments in developed countries and the response to policies by organizations in those countries. By employing the theories of habitus, disembedding, sensemaking and acculturation as frameworks for analysis, the authors explore and explain how these expatriates settle and integrate into their new lives and careers as they resolve their experience of habitus. Design/methodology/approach: This study employed phenomenology and narrative research techniques using 21 in-depth, semistructured interviews with expatriate professionals from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to explore and examine their expatriation experiences and their occupational progress in Australia. Findings: The findings reveal that on migrating to Australia, expatriate professionals are uprooted from their home country habitus and thrust into new conditions that cause them to lose their cultural, economic, intellectual and social capital, which further leads them into a state of “disembeddedness.” These highly skilled expatriates then rely on sensemaking and acculturation to resolve their crisis of habitus. The authors also found that gender is a significant factor in this process, as female expatriates faced more career-related barriers compared to their male counterparts. Originality/value: This article brings into focus previously unexamined avenues of expatriation research and proposes a novel theoretical framework that is instrumental in explaining the settlement and integration process of highly skilled professionals from emerging nations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Australia
  • Career challenges
  • Expatriate professionals
  • Habitus
  • Indian subcontinent
  • Intellectual capital


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