A Grounded theory study of the job-seeking experiences of foreign graduates on the German job market

A. Kapanen, D. Edgar, S. Dressler

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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    This paper reports on a Grounded Theory study of the employability of foreign business and engineering graduates on the German job market. It develops initial substantive theory around the factors conducive to successful entry onto the job market. Furthermore, it explores Grounded Theory as a potential methodology for investigating experiences of employability in general.

    In a broader context, the paper addresses the problem of comparatively weak employment outcomes among foreign university graduates in Germany. According to graduate surveys and labour market statistics, only about one-third of foreign graduates who desire to work in Germany succeed in gaining full-time employment after graduation. As the proportion of foreign graduates of the total workforce continues to grow, understanding and improving their employability gains in importance. However, existing studies and theories do not sufficiently explain the employability gap between German universities’ native and foreign graduates.

    In order to approach an explanation of the gap, this paper explores graduate experiences of success on the German job market. Using Straussian grounded theory, it draws upon in-depth interviews with six theoretically sampled Master graduates of commercial and engineering disciplines who have gained employment in Germany. The resulting substantive theory of foreign graduate employability rests on three main themes in the areas of career management, job acquisition and cultural integration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationINTED2017 Proceedings
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9788461784912
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


    • employability
    • international higher education
    • Germany
    • grounded theory


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