Why are U.S. business students afraid of immigrants? Values and attitudes


Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Xenophobia (fear of immigrants) is increasing in many developed countries. Given the prominent role of immigrants in the workforce, xenophobia can shape how managers treat diverse employees and business partners. However, immigration has largely been overlooked in higher business education, thereby not preparing our students for the workplace. With a lack of relevant literature and understanding of student immigration views, we survey U.S. business undergraduates to assess the antecedents of xenophobia of legal and undocumented immigrants. Under the lens of social identity theory, we consider self-transcendence values in universalism (appreciation of others) and benevolence (helping others) as well as immigration attitudes of resource competition (jobs and wages) and economic benefits (costs and labor gaps). We compare partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) to a configural study via qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). PLS-SEM, which relies on a one-size-fits-all function, generalizes both resource competition and economic benefit attitudes as having stronger influence on xenophobia than values for legal and undocumented immigrants. QCA, which allows different functions (configurations), more effectively captures subtle differences in personal immigration stances, highlighting the importance of one or the other attitude (resource competition or economic benefits). The results, thus, reveal the relevancy of QCA in better capturing variability among personal stances with complex, polarizing topics like immigration. We close with discussion of how scholars can begin to develop pedagogical research and tools to help students process their immigration attitudes and xenophobia.

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International Journal of Management Education

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