The lives of foreign academics in Poland: their motivations and adaptation in Kraków, a “Polish Silicon Valley”

Janusz Mucha, Kamil Łuczaj


The aim of this article is to analyze both the motivations of foreign scholars to come to work in Poland – specifically Kraków – and their ways of adapting to this significant Polish academic center. Most studies on highly skilled migrants (HSMs) concentrate on the flows between developing and highly developed countries. We concentrate on Central and Eastern Europe. This paper, based on in-depth interviews with 23 foreign scholars working full-time at four universities in Kraków, is a follow-up to a study presenting a 2015 analysis of websites of universities from Kraków. We look closely at barriers to and facilitators of foreign scholars’ adaptation to Poland and their perceived image of Poland and Polishness, their national identification and international contacts. We propose a typology comprised of “cosmopolitans”, “status seekers”, “enthusiasts”, and “commuters”. Our investigations reveal who decides to move to a semi-peripheral country such as Poland, and why. Certain parts of the narratives can be used in building a strategy of attracting more international scholars to academic centers such as Kraków.


highly skilled migration; Polish academic centers; foreign researchers; life in a foreign country

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