SkillsINCORP – ensuring retention of high-skilled professionals in Denmark

How are the skills and experiences of high-skilled professionals, who move to Denmark for work, used for innovation and business growth? Simultaneously, we study how these professionals and their families ‘land’ in Denmark and create their social and home lives.

Photo: Colourbox
Photo: Colourbox

(Se dansk resumé nedenfor) 

The project SkillsINCORP examines the mobility of people and skills across borders – as increasingly all countries need professionals with specific skills to ensure continued innovation and growth. But the mobility of such skills is not frictionless. SkillsINCORP specifically examines this issue in the Danish context.

Interviewing high-skilled international professionals and their managers across various companies in the STEM and financial sectors – we consider:

  • To what extent are the expertise of these high-skilled internationals drawn on?
  • How does it lead to innovation and productivity growth?
  • What are some of the challenges for these high-skilled internationals in the workplace and in the social and residential communities they join?

The research project will be conducted by Professor Claire Maxwell in collaboration with Associate Professor Nana Wesley Hansen:

“Our study is the first of its kind internationally to research the perspectives of high-skilled professionals, their partners, children and their employers together. The dual focus on incorporation into the workplace and in social and residential communities is also unique’, Claire Maxwell explains.

The project consists of two sub-projects. Towards the end of the project, the data from both sub-projects will be brought together to answer the following research question: ‘How do skills and social incorporation intersect, and how does this affect the high-skilled internationals’ current and planned future mobility for work?’


Sub-project 1 explores: How are HSPs’ skills incorporated into workplaces, and how is this understood to foster company growth and innovation?

  • 14 companies working in the STEM or finance sector in Denmark will be recruited.
  • Total of 42 high-skilled professionals – with an equal number of men and women; an equal number with European and Global South origins; and who hold varying management responsibilities
  • 1-2 managers in each company + an employee representative/trade union representative. Semi-structured interviews, including two vignettes to explore what cultural frames participants draw on when giving meaning to their practices.


Sub-project 2 explores: Do HSPs and their families become socially incorporated into local networks and spaces, and what makes this possible?

  • 25 of the high-skilled professionals recruited to the 1st sub-project will be invited to join the 2nd sub-project to study their home and community lives – 20 of the 25 will have partners, 15 of the 25 will have children in school, and 10 of the 25 will be women.
  • They will be followed over a 12-month period.
  • They will be interviewed 3 times, complete a social network sociogram, and keep a diary for 1 month.



  1. Professor Will Harvey (University of Bristol, skilled migration & knowledge organizations)

  2. Professor Dana Minbaeva (King's College London & Copenhagen Business School, strategic & global human management)

  3. Jörg Plöger (ILS - Research Insititute for Regional and Urban Development in Dortmund, migration & sociospatial in-equalities)



Projektet 'Skills INCORP – ensuring retention of high-skilled professionals in Denmark’ undersøger de processer, der har betydning for, hvordan udenlandske, højtuddannede fagfolk oplever at tiltræde en stilling i en dansk virksomhed. I hvor høj grad bliver deres ekspertiser udnyttet? Bliver alle deres kompetencer og erfaringer overført til deres nye job? Og i hvilken grad lykkedes det dem og deres familier at skabe sociale netværk i Danmark?

Forskningsprojektet bliver gennemført af professor Claire Maxwell i samarbejde med lektor Nana Wesley Hansen.



Name Title Phone E-mail
Search in Name Search in Title Search in Phone
Claire Maxwell Professor +4535327411 E-mail
Gregor Schäfer Postdoc +4535336396 E-mail
Miguel Morillas Postdoc +4535324607 E-mail
Nana Wesley Hansen Associate Professor +4535323444 E-mail

Funded by:

Independent Research Fund DenmarkSkillsINCORP – is funded by a 3-year grant from Independent Research Fund Denmark

Project: Skills INCORP
Period: 2022 - 2025


Professor Claire Maxwell