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Doing Family on the Move

Highly-Skilled Migrants in Switzerland and Germany

Florian Tissot

This book focuses on the coordination between family life and professional career under the condition of repeated mobilities. It analyses the division between the labour force work and the care work of couples of highly-skilled migrants settling in either Switzerland or Germany. A mutually exclusive model provides an innovative understanding of gendered hierarchies in career achievement. The male partners operate three parallel elements: an upward professional career, a family-life implying child(ren), and maintaining their availability to further unplanned relocations. The female partners can only coordinate two of these concurrently. In fact, the male partners combine the three elements by taking advantage of specific, and mostly invisible, care work that the female partner provides.

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Appendix 1: Contact Letter


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Appendix 2: Interview Grid

This is the last version of the interview grid that I used to interview the respondents in Frankfurt during the spring of 2017.

Interview Grid 2017
Subject of the PhD My work focuses on two points; first the path of your mobility and your professional career.
Second, the way you dealt with your family/private-life
Ethics Respect the anonymity - I keep personally the records and I do not transfere them

1. Experience of mobility

Biographical questionQYou’re in Germany right now, how did it happen?
RHow did you find a job in Germany?
(Provide a detailed account of …/
/… previous career and current assignments)R1What were your different positions during your professional career so far?
/… previous migration path)R2Before living in Germany, did you live in another country for a period of 6 months or more?
/… private life)QHow difficult or easy is it to maintain a family life or a private-life next to a professional career?
RIf you think of the former places you live, how did you deal with professional life and family/private-life?
Professional careers (subjective level)QWhat have been the most important choices you have made concerning your professional career?
(motivation to go for such a career)QWhat was your motivation to go abroad?
RDid you yourself make the decision to go for an international career?
←324 | 325→
Choice of destinationQWhen did you arrive in Germany?
(move wanted - unwanted)QDid you choose yourself to come to Germany?
RWhy Germany and Frankfurt?
(Is the place important?)QDoes your stay in Germany fit in a larger career plan?
(reasons to stay or leave)QAre you intending to stay in Germany?
(language)QDo you speak German?
RIf no, was it a problem when you were looking for a job in Germany?
(employed - unemployed)QIs your partner working now?
RIn Germany?
Career of the partnerQCan you tell me more about his or her professional career?
RHow is the professional life of your partner going?
(qualification recognition - blockage mobility)RDid your partner have some trouble to get his/her qualifications recognized in Germany?
(Stuck in the global market)Q(If so) How did your partner find a job here in Germany?
(language and labour market)RIs (or was) the local language important?
(Intra-familial strategies (pro))QDo you remember the discussions you had with your partner when you choose to come here?
RHow do you combine professional career and private life? What are your arrangements?
FamilyQWhat are the greatest challenges regarding the family?
QHow are you coping with these challenges?
(Different types of collocations)QAre you living in the same household your partner lives in?
or do you have any other ways to live together?
(Living together)QHow is it in the daily life?
(Different forms of family organisations)QWho is in charge of the household tasks?
(Children)QIn what kind of school is your child/ren being tought?
QIn what language is this schooling?
 ←325 | 326→
Family abroadQDo you have family members abroad? If yes, how do you keep in touch?
RHow do you maintain ties in other countries?
Daily-life in Germany  
(Bubble?)QIf you think of your two closest friends in Germany, who are they?
 RWhat are they doing here?
 QHave you developed new friendships in Germany? If yes, with whom?
 RDo you use social media to get in touch with new acquaintances in Germany?
 RWhere and how did you meet these people?
(Associationnal life)QIn which groups are you active? Are you member of an association? (Germany and abroad)
 QDid you have some difficult moments in your social life in Germany (loneliness, etc.)?
 RHow have you solved these problems?
(Discrimination)QDid you make bad experiences living here?
advicesQWould you recommend to someone of your family to come in Germany?
 QWhich advices would you give him or her?
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2. Support received

(In)formal help (un)receivedQWere you helped at all to find a job in Germany?
 QWho helped you to find a job?
(Landing in Germany)QHow would you describe the time just after your arrival in Germany?
 RHave you encountered any problems or challenges?
(Mapping of support)QWho helped you since you arrived in Germany? (persons or organisations)
 RWhat are the most difficult pieces of information to find?
 QHow did you find…
 … a flat?
  … a school for your child/ren?
  … a doctor?


Support of the employing organisationQDid the company you work for helped you in your installation process?
 QTell me specifically what steps and aid the company offers
 RAre there specific programmes supported by the company?
 QIf you have been working in another country, these programs vary depending on the country?


Glocal organisationQHave you been supported by specialized organisations such as head-hunters or relocation offices?
[motility - inclusion]R+Could you tell me how it happened?
 QWhich concrete help did you (or are you still) receiving?
 QHave you encountered any specific problems?
 QDid you have to pay for these services?
RAre these services supported by the company?
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Relation with the state-bodiesQYou performed various administrative tasks on your arrival (permits, control of the inhabitants, etc.).
 Were you supported?
RHave you encountered any specific problems?
(relation with specific state-bodies)QWhat is your experience with…
 … the immigration office?
 … the public administration (contrôle des habitants, service des automobiles, impôts)?
 … the social security system?
  … the public school
 QIs there any other problem we did not mention?


Permit and pensionsQWhat is your residence permit? Is it related to your employment contract?
 RAnd your partner?
 QWhat about your pensions?
 RAnd your partner?


SummarisingQTo summarize, what helped you the most while arriving here?


Self-identificationQHow would you define yourself in the first place?
(Clarify position towards key-words)RWhy, could you explain?
 QHow define yourself when asked?
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Concluding questions  
something missing?QIs there something you want to tell me we did not speak? Something to add?
Interview with the partnerQI would like to make an interview with your partner, do you think it is possible?
SnowballQWould you know people who would be likely to want to participate in this study?
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Appendix 3: Data Sheet


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Appendix 4: Code Book

Coding PhD  
Pre-set codesA priori codes 
1. Professional activitya. Career (Primary mover)// Professional Career and biographical background
 b. Career (Secondary mover) 
 c. Support of the MNC// MNC - internal support
 d. Support of the MI// externalised support, outplacement agency, etc.
 e. Value of Mobility and Motivation to Move 
2. Private lifea. Children 
 b. Partner, Spouse// relationship (getting married, divorce, etc.)
 c. Parents 
 d. Social life – friendships 
3. Strategy and coordinationa. Family strategy and work-life integration// coping family life professional career, negotiations between partners
 b. Local inclusions and Modalities of settling// motility, glocalisation, bi-local settlings, local-expatriate contracts
4. Othera. Employees in MNC Role of Expats in MNC 
 b. Self-identification// identification file
 c. Media consumption 
 d. Advices to young professional starting 
Emergent codesEmergent codes 
100 Displaying Family // Portraying family
 101 Displaying Family: Career coordination 
 102 Displaying Family: Children// Raising the children
←331 | 332→103 Displaying Family: Divorce 
 104 Displaying Family: lonely bubble (/= expat bubble) (hyp.) 
 105 Displaying Family: Others have problems 
 106 Displaying Family: Social life 
 107 Displaying Family: Trailing-Spouse 
 108 Displaying Family: Education - language - open to the world 
 109 Displaying Family: Career coordination 
 110 Displaying Family: paternalist - I defend my wife and family 
 111 Diplaying Family: Homefloating, stable, etc
200 Family Strategy // Doing family - Dynamic primary <-> secondary mover
 201 Family Strategy: Being divorced 
 202 Family Strategy: Settling// Difficulty to settle - arriving in a new place
 203 Family Strategy: Supported by MI// different types of support
 204 Family Strategy: Non supported by MI 
 205 Family Strategy: Accomodationformer: 205 Family Strategy: Buying a house
←332 | 333→206 Family Strategy: Childrenuse 206 instead of 943 Nanny
 207 Family Strategy: Local oriented 
 208 Family Strategy: Motility//perceived likeliness and possibility of a further move - age of the children may diminish it
 209 Family Strategy: International School 
 210 Family Strategy: Local School 
 211 Family Strategy: Boarding school 
 212 Family Strategy: Discussion// negotiation
 213 Family Strategy: Mobility// Mobility as a strategy! + decision to move
 214 Family Strategy: Path-dependency// language of education for the children e.g
 215 Family Strategy: Maintaining ties// go back to former place with children for instance
 216 Family Strategy: A relocatable unit//linked with trailing-spouse /=local oriented
300 Primary Mover  
 301 Primary Mover: Career 
 302 Primary Mover: Unsecure career// From project to project
 303 Primary Mover: Upward career// explanation how careers in MNC work
 304 Primary Mover: Type of working contract + company culture//expat contract - local contract
 305 Primary Mover: Impact of the job// Global impact
←333 | 334→306 Primary Mover: Adventure// thrilled about the opportunity
 307 Primary Mover: Supported by MI 
 308 Primary Mover: Struggle 
 309 Primary Mover: Role of the Boss// in decision to move
 310 Primary Mover: Expat contract 
400 Secondary Mover  
 401 Secondary Mover: Adventure 
 402 Secondary Mover: Parent//parenting - housewifing - arriving of the 1st child!
 403 Secondary Mover: Professional Success 
 404 Secondary Mover: Strategy 
 405 Secondary Mover: Struggles 
 406 Secondary Mover: Trailing-Spouse// supporting the relocatable unit + may look for something once settled
 407 Secondary Mover: Supported by MI 
 408 Secondary Mover: Finding a job// process of find a job in a new local space
500 Labour Market  
 501 Labour Market: dual structure// international or local position -> language difference!
←334 | 335→502 Labour Market: hierarchy within MNC// senior manager more support
 503 MNC: Mobility Policies//modification of the conditions
900 Others //to be classified, incorporated in the analysis
 901 Biggest Challenge: language//locality,
 902 Biggest Challenge: Leaving home-city 
 903 Local//904 difference?
 904 Importance of local//903 difference?
 905 Local friends 
 906 Power of place 
 907 Relevance of the local: Language//problem of language in new local space for secondary mover to find a job
 908 The most difficult (“multiple choices”) 
 909 Old friends// abroad know before arrival
 910 Expat Bubble// as a family strategy + as a barrier
 911 Expat Bubble: Media consumption// coherent to FS
 912 Expat Bubble: Social relationships// School as an important way to socialise
 913 Expat Network 
 914 Biggest challenge: rebuilding social fabric 
 951 Dural career couple// Doing family? - family strategy?
 953 Nanny // We pay – nanny: migrant, too!
←335 | 336→954 Raising children 
 955 Pregnant 
 956 Mobile lifestyle as an enrichment 
 960 Decision de live abroad 
 961 Structure of the couplebinational mononational
 961 MNC: move of the HQ 
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Appendix 5: List of the Respondents for each Chapter

6.1.1Katia and Dennis118
6.2.1Lynn and Alex123
6.4.1Kim and Laura129
 Stefan and Caroline130
6.4.2Emma and Blaise133
 Julia and Jack134
6.4.3Manon and Charles135
6.5.1Lynn and Alex138
6.5.2François and Lara139
 Sara and John142
 Maria and Franz143
6.5.3Julia and Jack146
 Maria and Franz148
 Manon and Charles149
6.5.4Carlos and Raul151
6.5.5Annisa and Adrian152
 Thomas and Laura154
 Manon and Charles158
7.2.1John and Aurelia169
7.2.2Kim and Sandra177
7.2.3Dennis and Katia183
7.3.1Maria and Franz190
7.3.2Lynn and Alex193
7.3.3Kim and Laura198
 Hannah and Hans198
8.2.1Pedro and Marta208
8.2.2Xavier and Laurianne216
 Lara and François216
8.2.3Pedro and Marta220
 Xavier and Laurianne220
←337 | 338→ 
 Richard and Andrea223
8.3.1Annisa and Adrian230
8.3.2Lynn and Alex234
8.4.1Maria and Franz247
8.4.2Manon and Charles250
8.4.3Tyler and Vanessa254