Moving People and Knowledge

Moving People and Knowledge

Scientific Mobility in an Enlarging European Union

Louise Ackers and Bryony Gill

Moving People and Knowledge provides a fresh examination of the processes of highly skilled science migration. Focusing on intra-European mobility and, in particular, on the new dynamics of East–West migration, the authors investigate the movement of Polish and Bulgarian researchers to and from the UK and Germany. Key questions include: who is moving, how long for, and why? In addressing the motivations and experiences of mobile scientists and their families, insights into professional and personal motivations are provided, demonstrating how relationships, networks and infrastructures shape decision-making. This book provides a useful perspective on the implications of increasing researcher mobility – for both sending and receiving regions and the individuals concerned – which is necessary for the construction of future policies on sustainable scientific development.

Chapter 7: Brain Gain? Assessing the Value of Scientific Migration to Receiving Countries

Louise Ackers and Bryony Gill

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, knowledge management, development studies, family and gender policy, migration, innovation and technology, knowledge management, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


7. Brain gain? Assessing the value of scientific migration to receiving countries1 INTRODUCTION The EU is committed to increasing research capacity and sustainability through improved retention and international recruitment (EC, 2001; CEC, 2004). This concern is echoed at national level, with recent policy initiatives focusing on the twin objectives of improving the recruitment and retention of home-grown2 scientists in national labour markets and augmenting this through international recruitment. The received wisdom, implicit in the brain drain debate, suggests that receiving countries are the net beneficiaries of highly skilled migration, capable of skimming the cream of employees in competitive global markets (Williams et al., 2004: 38). Peridy (2006: 6) takes a somewhat broader approach, suggesting that analysis of ‘migration demand, from the host country perspective’ should take account of ‘the needs of the local labour market, the quality of the migrants, the expected welfare effect of migration and possibly the attitude of natives toward immigration’. This chapter uses the UK as a case study to demonstrate the impact of highly skilled migration on receiving countries. It opens with a brief discussion of the importance of international recruitment to meeting skills shortages in academic labour markets. The chapter then moves on to consider whether the ability to recruit from abroad goes beyond simple vacancy-filling to enhance the quality of human capital through improved competition, effectively enabling the receiving countries to pick from the ‘brightest and the best’ as is often suggested.3 In addition to improving the volume...

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