In a context of increasing cross-cultural migration, immigrants increasingly contribute to the consumption in their host countries, increase the domestic product of these countries, and extend the pool of skilled work force available to companies and public and social services.

The experience of home is central to the understanding of the world and adds to the quality of life, says Dr. Maria Kreuzer, newly appointed Affiliate Professor and Executive Director of the doctoral program for executives (DBA) at the International University of Monaco.

Research Series

For immigrants, the experience of “home beyond home” may take a central role in their lives. Experiencing home includes a sense of belonging to a group of people and a sense of being rooted in a real or virtual space. It is part of a person´s identity perception. Immigrants do not just leave their “acquainted” home, new brands, products, services, and lifestyles also change immigrants´ consumption opportunities. Reaching a new experience of home means dealing with the conflict between adaptation to dominant new ways of conduct including consumption and sticking to the behavior patterns of the culture of origin.

Understanding how immigrants experience home is important for the wellbeing of both, host societies and immigrants.

To understand how immigrants experience home and which roles products and consumption play in this trans-cultural experience, Maria Kreuzer, Hans Mühlbacher, Research Director of IUM, and Sylvia von Wallpach from Copenhagen Business School conducted in-depth autobiographical interviews with first generation migrants living in Austria, a country with a long tradition of immigration from diverse cultural backgrounds. The researchers analyzed the immigrants´ multi-sensory experience of physical, social, individual, and temporal belonging.

The study reveals three quite different ways how immigrants experience home:

How immigrants experience home:

1)    Longing for the past

2)    Mingling social relationship and consumption

3)    Experiencing home within oneself

 

Some immigrants long for the past: They experience home through nostalgic memories and feelings. These immigrants reject the host country´s values and consumption, even when they have stayed in the new country for a substantial number of years. Using products and consumption patterns from their country of origin allows them experiencing home in a foreign environment.

Other immigrants mingle social relationships and consumption in their experience of home. These immigrants integrate cultural norms and consumption experiences of the dominant culture through adaptation while staying true to their cultural norms of origin. They enjoy experiencing home by sharing their former consumption patterns with people from the host country.

Finally, some immigrants experience home within themselves. They balance individual and social needs, feeling rather independent of both the culture of origin and the host culture. A strong social network with a relatively small number of beloved people independent of nationality, culture, or religion provides them with a feeling of belonging. Their reflexive independent and self-confident self allows these immigrants to have rather weak ties to physical places.

Understanding how immigrants experience home public and corporate policy makers can tailor special offerings to them.

Immigrants who long for the past are target consumers for products, services, and platforms catering to their nostalgia. For minglers events with varying cultural backgrounds can provide welcome meeting platforms for trans-cultural interaction with friends. Immigrants who find home in themselves might enjoy the individualization of products and services as well as spiritual offers that support feelings of independence, self-reliance and personal freedom.

If you are interested in this research please feel free to contact Hans Mühlbacher, Director of the DBA Program at IUM 

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