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Title: From east to west : learning, knowledge and personal development through migration and its impact upon return
Author: Palovic, Zuzana
ORCID:   6208-571--
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 9962
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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This research provided a theoretically-informed empirical exploration of the nature and significance of learning through the international migration experience. Furthermore, it explored how mobility contributes to the diffusion of new knowledge across socio-economic and national boundaries through return and circular flows. The context for the research was a post-communist, post-accession, transition economy located in the heart of Europe (Slovakia), but once part of the former Soviet-Bloc. This study also provided the context to gauge the extent to which the tenet of ‘freedom of movement’, in the form of circular East to West migration flows, contributed to professional and personal development. The focus was the formal and informal learning made possible through the international migration experience. The researcher employed face to face interviews to gather in-depth qualitative data. A sample of 30 returned migrants were interviewed, supplemented by interviews with key informants from business, government and civil society sectors in Slovakia. In turn, four respondent groups were approached, which culminated with 72 study respondents in total. The findings from the study revealed that international migration may be a context for accelerated learning, that contributes to professional but also personal development, in the form of hard and soft-skills acquisition, including key competencies such as enhanced confidence, independence and critical thinking. All of these attributes were identified to be in short supply in the post-communist labour market, and key to various transition issues, as addressed by the key informants. Comparatively, this study built on the seminal work of Williams and Balaz (2008) on international migration and knowledge. These scholars argued that international migration is an important vehicle for the acquisition, and circulation, of tacit knowledge. Potentially migrants constitute sources of key know-how, in addition to acting as boundary spanning knowledge brokers, that help to connect regions and/or countries through their embedded and encultured knowledge of multiple contexts. This study also built on Williams’ and Balaz’s (2008) theoretical perspectives, by focusing on international migration and knowledge, in addition to exploring the implications of this new learning on the individual. In the field of adult learning, knowledge is not just a brick by brick accumulation of information, but also highly personal. Therefore, knowledge is not just a process driven added-value for the individual, but may also be emancipatory. Therefore, this study explored how international migration can be a context for deep personal learning and not just professional knowledge acquisition. By applying Jack Mezirow’s (1991) transformative learning theory and linking the migration experience to a ‘disorienting dilemma’, this study concludes that international migration may contribute to transformative learning. The outcome can be the acquisition of a ‘more open, integrated and discerning’ meaning perspective.
Supervisor: Williams, Allan ; Janta, Hanna Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available