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Scientific diasporas as development partners

Skilled migrants from Colombia, India and South Africa in Switzerland: empirical evidence and policy responses- Preface by Jean-Baptiste Meyer

Edited By Gabriela Tejada Guerrero and Jean-Claude Bolay

Over the last two decades, globalisation has accelerated international migration flows, particularly of skilled labour. Yet increasing migration by skilled workers from developing countries («brain drain») has raised serious concerns internationally about the adverse development impact on their countries of origin. This book, however, highlights the positive aspects of skilled labour migration as scientific diasporas are playing a growing role in the transfer of technology, skills and knowledge («brain gain») to their home countries. This is a very significant development in a globalised world where science, technology and knowledge can trigger economic and social transformations. The book presents solid empirical evidence of the contributions scientific diasporas make to their countries of origin, based on primary surveys of skilled migrants from Colombia, India and South Africa employed in Switzerland, a major destination country. The findings lead to a better understanding of the motives for migration, the profile of the scientific diaspora communities in Switzerland, and the varied ways in which they help their home countries. The book makes a significant contribution to the international policy debate and dialogue on migration and development. In particular, it shows how to leverage the potential of scientific diasporas as agents of home country development, by identifying good practices and offering specific recommendations for the countries of origin and of destination.


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Acknowledgements VII


VII Acknowledgements Numerous people – scientists, professionals, students, migrants and locals – have contributed to the preparation of this volume by taking part in interviews, by informing others about the project activities identifying members of the scientific diaspora, and by actively participating in the workshops that were organised to examine the policy implications of the major research findings. The following people were members of the project’s research team and the scientific steering committee: Dr. Gabriela Tejada, Francelle Kwankam, Ibra- hima Amadou Dia, Marco Pecoraro, Prof. Jean-Claude Bolay, Dr. Piyasiri Wick- ramasekara, Prof. Philippe Wanner, Dr. Rosita Fibbi, Prof. Marie-Claire Caloz- Tschopp, Prof. Christiane Perregaux, Dr. Claudio Bolzman, Prof. Carlos Andrés Peña, and Guillermo Arbelaez. The Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN) provided financial support for the project, which was co-financed by the Cooperation Unit of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the International Migration Programme of the International Labour Office (ILO). GIAN’s former Executive Secretary, Randall Harbour, systematically backed and encouraged our activities. Thanks to this research funding, we were able to establish an excellent level of collaboration between the various academic part- ners and the members of international organisations, building bridges and creat- ing synergies between two worlds that otherwise only have sporadic contact with each other. The support of Dr. Ibrahim Awad, the Director of the International Mi- gration Programme at the ILO, and the valuable technical contributions of Dr. Piyasiri Wickramasekara were most encouraging and essential to the success- ful execution of the project....

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