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 9: Summary, Conclusions and Policy Implications

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


The MOBEX research has sought to understand the processes shaping highly skilled, scientific, mobility. It has considered three related dimensions of ‘impact’; first on scientists as individuals or members of families; second, on the countries concerned and finally, on what it means for Europe and the success of the European Research Area. This concluding chapter summarizes some of the key findings before considering some policy implications. PATTERNS OF SCIENTIFIC MOBILITY Analysis of patterns of mobility in the MOBEX sample indicate an increase in the level of short-term circulation both prior to longer mobility episodes and following returns. The majority of respondents in our return sample (those based in Poland and Bulgaria) were using the mechanism of repeated short stays to achieve a kind of work–life balance and sustain their scientific productivity and well-being. Even the most apparently ‘settled’ respondents in the host countries often exhibited a form of ‘shuttle return mobility’ spending repeated short stays in their home country. This circulation indicates a strong potential for return and associated collaboration and knowledge transfer should the conditions exist to support the effective reintegration and retention of scientists. The short-term nature of mobility to some extent reflects the nature of employment positions available in the host countries. ‘Foreign’ researchers typically occupy temporary, early-career, positions even when they held more senior positions prior to moving. There was little evidence of direct recruitment of established ‘research stars’ from Bulgaria and Poland into the receiving countries although quite senior researchers...

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