This paper extends language-sensitive research in international management by shedding light on the role of language skills in the integration and employment of refugees. We approach refugees as agents whose actions are shaped by their own habits, imagination, judgment and motivations, even while severely constrained by external forces. We explore how refugees perceive the role of language skills as a part of their employment and integration, and how these perceptions are aligned with and influenced by linguistic practices and expectations in the receiving context. Our analysis in the empirical context of Finland uncovers important variations in how refugees make sense of the role of language in their integration trajectories, especially the role of English versus local language skills. This is noteworthy given the strong current emphasis on local language skills as critical for refugees’ employment and societal integration. Our findings suggest more differentiated treatment and improved advisory services as effective strategies to improve refugee labor market integration. © 2023 The Authors

DOI: 10.1016/j.intman.2023.101061
ISSN: 10754253