Moving People and Knowledge
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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.
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Chapter 6: The Role of Networks and Connections in Shaping Migration Processes and Effects

Louise Ackers and Bryony Gill


6. The role of networks and connections in shaping migration processes and effects INTRODUCTION This chapter considers the role that networks and connections play in scientific migration. Existing literature tends to polarize the debate into two distinct positions. The first stance suggests that networks make migrants, lubricating and channelling migratory outflows with a multiplier effect. The second stance – found in a growing body of literature with a focus predominantly on developing countries – identifies the potential that scientific diaspora present as critical compensatory mechanisms, enabling sending regions to benefit from the enriched human capital of their expatriates through forms of ‘disembodied’ knowledge transfer. This chapter explores the relationship between networking and migration/knowledge transfer processes. It considers the relevance of the concept of diaspora in the context of scientific communities, the quality and function of connections and the factors shaping connectedness in that specific context. The first aspect of the migration/knowledge transfer process concerns the contribution of networks to the physical movement of scientists, both in terms of outward and return flows. To the extent that knowledge is embedded in scientists, this process of mobility might be expected to involve a high degree of knowledge transfer. It cannot be assumed that knowledge is transferred in any perfect or complete sense, however, as this rather depends on the context within which the scientists are accruing and applying their skills. The second process concerns the importance of networks to ‘disembodied’ or ‘reverse’ knowledge flows. In...

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