Working Paper

Governance of International Skilled Migration: Scalar Politics and Network Relations

Published 6 January 2016 / By Micheline van Riemsdijk

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Studies of migration governance have predominantly examined the involvement of states and supranational actors in policymaking, paying less attention to the influence of nonstate actors at the national and local scale. This article brings together literatures on migration governance and policy networks to investigate the participation of national and sub-national actors in skilled migration governance in the petroleum industry in Norway. The article makes three arguments. First, government actors have clearly delineated the spheres of influence in skilled migration policymaking. These boundary-setting practices ensure that the state remains in charge of key domains related to international migration and employment. Second, expertise is a salient component in the scaling and networking practices of stakeholders in international skilled migration. This expertise informs policy briefs and is used to gain access to influential decision makers. Third, the findings confirm the emergence of new, private actors that transcend scalar hierarchies through public-private partnerships. The article concludes that public-private partnerships enable state actors to extend their influence to the private sector. The most influential state actors, however, refrain from these alliances to remain neutral in politically charged issues. Thus, the state retains considerable decision-making power in skilled migration and employment-related issues.

Key words

Norway, migration governance, qualitative methods, scale, network, policy network


Micheline van Riemsdijk, University of Tennessee, Department of Geography, Burchfiel Geography 304, Knoxville TN 37919, USA


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