Highly skilled South African immigrants in New Zealand : a thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in Management at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This exploratory research represents a first step into investigating the acculturation strategies employed by highly skilled South African immigrants to New Zealand. It answers the call for information to be added to the body of knowledge, in this emergent research area for New Zealand, on this specific immigrant group. The report examines the match between the South African and New Zealand acculturation strategies in the workplace, and highlights the relationships expected as a result. It also identifies factors helping and hindering the acculturation of South African immigrants. Limiting factors such as time constrained the report; however, results add new information to the body of knowledge in the fields of immigration to New Zealand, emigration from South Africa, and acculturation in New Zealand. The research used convenience and snowball techniques to identify participants, and structured interviews with open ended questions were used to elicit their migration experiences. Data analysis was qualitative, and consisted of identification of themes that could be used to classify participant groups. The research concluded that highly skilled South African immigrants to New Zealand pursue either an integrative or assimilative acculturation strategy. Those pursuing an integrative strategy are likely to have consensual relationships with New Zealanders in the workplace, given the New Zealand expectation that immigrants should integrate into the host culture. However, those pursuing an assimilation strategy may experience more problematic relationships in the New Zealand workplace. The main factors helping the integration group to acculturate were developing shared understanding and acceptance between different cultural groups. The factors helping the assimilation group were their ability to be flexible and adapt to change. The main factor hindering the acculturation of the integration group was that their expectations of New Zealand workplaces were not met. For the assimilation group the main hindering factor was suffering from acculturative stress. A major implication of the research for New Zealand workplaces is developing a better understanding of highly skilled South African employees, which in particular will affect selection and retention practices for this group. By developing shared understanding, a better fit between the person and their environment can be achieved. This can help ensure the skills of this immigrant group are utilised in New Zealand's growing knowledge economy.