Integration: 10 Years In Praxi Award

On the tenth anniversary of the presentation of the "In Praxi Outstanding Thesis Award" by the WHU Alumni Association In Praxi e.V., WHU is presenting several prizewinners and their theses from previous years.

On September 28, 2018, WHU alumnus Dr. Marco Vietor presented the In Praxi Outstanding Thesis Award to Nils Aschmann and Leo Polwein (both BSc 2018) for their thesis entitled "Integration of Refugees as Workers: Opportunity or Challenge for German Family Businesses?

For the two prizewinners, a previous personal commitment to refugee aid was decisive in the choice of topic for their thesis, which was supervised by Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander and Khadija Mubarka at the Chair of Family Businesses. Almost three years after the influx of refugees to Germany reached its peak in 2015; the authors analyzed how family businesses have experienced the integration of refugees into their working environment and how they evaluate these experiences. 

With their thesis, the authors dared to tackle a topic that continues to be the subject of discussion in the public debate. The authors found that the decision-making powers and social commitment of family entrepreneurs are a major driver of integration efforts. Contrary to original expectations, differences in the cultural and personal background of the refugees are perceived above all as enriching. Language deficits and regulatory obstacles are the most common challenges. The authors referred to a variety of internally developed measures as well as external support offerings that can help to overcome these challenges. The analysis of such measures makes this work particularly relevant for practitioners.


3 Questions to Nils Aschmann and Leo Polwein

1. Do you still follow the developments around the topic of your thesis today?

Leo: We are still closely following the topic of refugees in Germany in general, which is not too difficult given the frequent reporting. But when it comes to the integration of refugees into (family) enterprises, it is somewhat more difficult to keep up to date. Here we would both be pleased if the topic of integrating refugees into the German work environment would receive more attention, both in science and in the press. After all, this is a socially very relevant issue. In general, it would be nice if the public dialogue about refugees, also in politics, could be conducted more objectively. After all, it is a complex subject which cannot be dealt with by simple slogans at regulars' tables.

2. Would you look back and approach the subject in the same way as you did then?

Nils: We looked at the topic exclusively from the company or employer. Looking back, we would also have been interested in the direct perspective of the employees, i.e., the refugees, to obtain a more comprehensive and possibly even more profound picture. An even more detailed examination of the regulatory framework would certainly have provided further exciting starting points.

3. If you had to decide at this point, with a little distance to your studies, on a subject for a scientific paper, what would you choose?

Leo: Since I have a very broad interest, many topics would come into question for me. However, I am particularly enthusiastic about topics that go beyond business administration and have far-reaching social consequences, as was the case with our bachelor's thesis. One topic that I had a lot to do with recently and that I could therefore well imagine would be mobility. Here, from autonomous cars to new traffic concepts for cities, I would be interested in many questions.

Nils: Even if I could not spontaneously name a concrete topic, it would still be an important factor for me in general that a certain social relevance emanates from the topic. Looking back, I would certainly have been interested in a scientific work whose findings I could have transferred directly into my company foundation, for example in the field of entrepreneurship or logistics in a concrete case. But of course, that was not foreseeable at the time.