An examination into how Irish SMEs socialise non-Irish-national employees into their workforce

Damien Ryan

    Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis


    The purpose of this study is to investigate how Irish SMEs socialise non-Irish-nationals into their workforces. Levels of immigration into Ireland have increased significantly in recent years, caused by improved economic conditions in Ireland and the expansion of the European Union in 2004 and 2007. Due to this increase in immigration levels, Irish Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have to adapt to operating with a heterogeneous workforce as opposed to a homogenous one. Previous research has suggested that the early stages of the employment of culturally diverse workers with an organisation are particularly crucial. According to McMilan- Capehart (2005) the methods which an organisation uses to assist the socialisation of culturally diverse employees will play a significant role in determining whether those employees will be able to adapt to that organisation or not. For this reason, this research focuses on the organisational socialisation of non-Irish-nationals into Irish SMEs. As far as this researcher is aware, the organisational socialisation of culturally diverse organisational entrants into small businesses has not been previously investigated in an Irish context. The current study’s primary research methodology was qualitative. The primary data used in the study was gathered through a series of semi-structured interviews of owner/managers or operations managers of SMEs in the South East of Ireland. This research method allowed the researcher to engage with the respondents and gain an indepth understanding of how these SMEs are approaching the task of socialising non- Irish-national entrants. A number of noteworthy findings emerged from this research. Firstly, it was found that the SMEs surveyed have altered their induction methods to meet the requirements of non-Irish-nationals entering their organisations, albeit in sometimes quite small ways. Secondly, the owner/manager or operations managers of the organisations surveyed played an important role in the socialisation process particularly in the early stages when the influence of the organisation over the entrants was at its strongest. Thirdly, the roles played by established employees were found to be extremely important. Unexpectedly, it was discovered that the role played by non-Irish-national employees was of greater significance than that played by Irish employees. In all organisations surveyed, non-Irish-national employees were relied upon to assist in the recruitment process by recommending further potential employees. They also provided considerable levels of support to the entering non-Irish- nationals thereby playing a significant role in their socialisation. Finally, the outcomes of the socialisation processes seemed to be somewhat mixed in terms of the integration of the non-Irish-national entrants on a social levels. While the non-Irish-national employees displayed exemplary adaptability and role proficiency in all cases, there were signs that non-Irish-nationals had not integrated completely with the established workforce. The workforces in some of the organisations surveyed had instead separated into two groups; Irish and non-Irish-national. This separation had been caused largely by cultural and language barriers. The outcomes of this research may have implications for HRM practitioners, entrepreneurs, owner/managers and operations managers of SMEs, academics and policy makers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • O'Gorman, William J., Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


    • Small Business, Ireland.


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