Prof. Ute-Christine Klehe & Dr. Katja Wehrle




Chairs the team of Work and Organizational Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany).



Safe haven? Refugees’ challenges and threats in the receiving country’s labour market, their coping, and avenues for adversarial growth and meaningfulness




Managing involuntary career transitions and/or traumas is challenging under the best of circumstances. For migrants, and particularly for refugees, this is especially the case. For these workers, typical career-related self-management behaviours related to exploration, deciding, and planning often require extra steps in overcoming numerous context-specific barriers. While commanding only meagre or exhausted resources, refugees must navigate an innately foreign context with its different requirements, power structures, and professional scripts. This mismatch of scripts, however, shapes refugees’ self-regulation, inviting under-, mis- and overregulation, which can influence locals’ interpretation of refugees’ efforts and, with this, refugees’ overall integration. In addition, employers’ trust in hiring refugees can erode from trust violations between the different stakeholders involved in refugees’ integration (i.e., refugees themselves, local employers and their existing workforce, various authorities, and/or official and unofficial supporters). Together with refugees’ fundamental uncertainties (e.g., residence decisions), lacking personal resources (e.g., language skills, social networks), and loss of time in the process, these situations threaten some of the last resources refugees have left: Their fundamental understandings of themselves. Yet, refugees cope with these adversities in numerous adaptive and proactive manners. While social connections and rich local opportunities assist refugees’ adaptation, refugees also exert career-adaptive responses characterized by high self-regulation (e.g., thought and emotion regulation, adaptive goal setting), paving the way to successful integration. Amid their struggles, refugees in our studies still managed to rebuild connections to themselves and others, weave together personally meaningful careers, and potentially experience psychological growth.



Ute-Christine Klehe chairs the team of Work and Organizational Psychology at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany), after a career in different Psychology and Management departments across Germany (Philipps Universitär Marburg), Canada (University of Toronto), Switzerland (University of Zurich) and the Netherlands (University of Amsterdam). Current projects address questions on how we understand and manage ourselves, touching on question related to identity and impression management, as well as career-related adaptability and self-management during career transitions such as the school-to-work transition, unemployment, migration, yet also during regular personnel selection. Her research has appeared in outlets such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, the Journal of Organizational Behavior, the Journal of Vocational Behavior, and others, and she has served as an action editor for outlets such as the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Applied Psychology: An International Review.



Department of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany).



Dr Katja Wehrle works at the department of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany) and is currently a visiting research scholar at the Deakin University’s Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE; Australia). In her research, Katja studies identity-related adaptation processes and career-related self-management in challenging and/or involuntary career transitions (migration, unemployment), with a special focus on refugees’ vocational behavior and careers. Her research has appeared in the Journal of Vocational Behavior. Katja is a guest editor for the Special Issue on “Effective strategies for humanitarian migrants’ employment, inclusion and integration” in the Journal of International Management, and she serves as an editorial board member for the Journal of Vocational Behavior and the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

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