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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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Foreword y Gabriela TEJADA and Jean-Claude BOLAY IX


IX Foreword Present-day globalization is characterised by free-market thinking, the grow- ing emphasis on the global knowledge economy, the development and expan- sion of advanced communication and information technology services, tour- ism, and trade between countries. These related phenomena have led to intense international migration, and in particular the mobility of science and labour. Against this backdrop, one frequently mentioned concern in international co- operation circles is about how developing countries’ scientific and professional elites are trained, particularly in relation to migration by highly qualified sci- entists and professionals who go to academic and research institutions in in- dustrialized countries that offer them better personal and professional opportu- nities. This is a major threat because a significant and growing number are deciding not to return to their country of origin. This can be viewed as a net loss to the countries of origin, both in terms of their investment in education and training, and regarding the added value of the scientific and technological knowledge of their scarce human capital, from which only the richer destina- tion countries actually benefit. If we consider knowledge in general (including its manifestations as edu- cation, professional training and scientific research) as a key catalyst for socio- economic, scientific and technological progress, irrespective of the type of so- ciety, country or level of development, the exodus of Southern elites to coun- tries of the North can be seen as a threat. In fact, the social and economic needs of societies in the South potentially clash...

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