The diaspora of highly skilled ICT workers contributions to economic development Ana M. González Ramos, Jörg Müller, Milagros Sáinz Ibáñez, Cecilia Castaño Collad IN3, Gender and ICT Program (UOC) firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Key words: ICT human resources, international mobility programmes, migration, flows of highly skilled personnel, distance learning method, development of less favoured countries. Abstract: This contribution discusses contemporary forms of mobility of highly skilled professionals. Globalization, especially in science and economy, has spurred an increasing flow of highly skilled workers across borders. Often, this has disadvantages for the less developed countries because they loose qualified human resources, giving rise to a so-called brain drain effect. Information technologies are used by governments and organisations to connect skilled personnel from the local to the international level. Governments and organizations try to keep in touch with their highly skilled personnel working abroad. Many initiatives exists that try to connect the diaspora, such as for example SANSA (South African Networks of Skills Abroad), CHISA (Chinese Scholar Abroad), ASTA (Arab Scientists and Technologists Abroad), SIPA (Silicon Valley Indian Professional Association), Red Caldas (Instituto Colombiano para el Desarrollo de la Ciencia y la Tecnología "Francisco José de Caldas" – COLCIENCIAS) and R@ices (Red de Argentinos Investigadores y Científicos en el Exterior) among others. In our presentation we will focus on the mobility actions promoted by the Carolina Foundation (FC), a Spanish non-profit organisation cooperating with Latin America. The organisation is an interesting case for several reasons: Firstly, the FC follows a brain circulation policy in its cooperation programmes with some of the less developed countries. This means, that they finance the postgraduate studies of Latin American people in Spanish universities who are urged to return to their home country once they have finished their studies. This way, the investment in their educational training is being guaranteed for their home countries. Secondly, the FC has fostered of the creation of some networks to interconnect the diaspora. There exists a so called “Carolina Community” of those who have received grants in the past and present. Online networks have been created by the Foundation, others depend on local Government funding (e.g. Peru) and, finally, more informal ones have been formed by students themselves. And, thirdly, the FC uses mixed online and traditionally educational programs, which is interesting because it presents other modalities of mobility for the highly skilled personnel. We compare the number of applicants of two similar ICT programmes (UOC and Carlos III), -which are representative of a virtual and presential postgraduate programs respectively. We wonder whether, online education at the postgraduate level is an alternative in order to avoid brain drain? Or, if rather the opposite hypothesis holds: on-line education discourages the diaspora meanwhile skilled professionals are being training in prestigious higher education institutions abroad.
1. A glance at the new IT influences on the mobility
The knowledge transfer and the mobility of researchers are always linked with the development of science. In the past, travellers were an important source of diffusion of ideas and technological advancement. But nowadays, the information technologies and globalization have transformed science (Nowotny et al, 2001). The specialization of science increases throughout the contact with foreign research groups sharing common lines of research. Competitiveness and excellence foster the search for knowledge abroad and encourage the mobility of people. The current fast and cheap means of transport facilitates the international mobility for scientists and students, and the Information Technologies (IT) as well as other electronic devices are used to maintain the relationship and the exchange of information. In sum up, the IT also promotes the establishment of professional and personal relationship during the stay abroad of the scientific and technological highly skilled personnel keeping in touch with family and colleagues. The results presented in this work are a reflection of the main project based on interviews to holder-grants, managers and evaluators of the some Spanish mobility programs conducted in the research project titled “Efectos curriculares de la movilidad internacional de los egresados universitarios del área TIC”, financing by the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Subdirección General Estudios y Análisis (EA2008-0153). In this work we focus on the reinforcement of the scientific community, the highly qualified labour market and the specialized programs of study by means of the technological sources. We address multiple ways of influence between technologies and mobility of highly skilled personnel. We also focus on the advantages for the less favoured countries promoted from the positive relationship of the highly skilled personnel diaspora with local community by means online communication. Hence we talk about the effect of the brain circulation instead of brain drain effects caused by the outflows of the highly skilled personnel in less favoured countries. The second approach emphasizes the negative aspects of the mobility for the home countries - in terms of the imbalance between poor and rich countries. Conversely, the brain circulation approach focuses on the advantages of the mobility of the highly skilled personnel for both type of countries. We argue about the opportunities offered by IT tools for knowledge transfer and the development of the countries, related to the fostering of the students capabilities and the competitiveness of their scientific institutions. The human resources policies are inspired by the assumptions of the brain circulation as a mechanism to the reinforcement of knowledge economies (Drucker, 1969). It concerns, in the first place, to the design of the European migration policies and, in the second place, to the funding of the Higher Education programs. The goal of these actions consists in the recruitment of the talent, independently of the geographical origin, in order to foster the competitiveness of the scientific institutions, the R&D and innovation system and, in general, the global economy. With this objective, the regulation concerning to the mobility of the third-country nationals in EU is a result of necessities of a knowledge based economy, leading to the recruitment of the talent and the excellence of candidates. The European Directive (Council Directive 2009/50/EC of 25 May 2009) regulates the conditions of entry and residence in the territory of the Member States of thirdcountry nationals with the purpose of recognizing the labour right of the highly qualified employees and their family members as EU Blue Card holders. It affects especially to the highly skilled personnel as well as scientists when they stay abroad for long or definitive period. In the second place, student mobility leads to the improvement of the academic and scientific achievements and is promoted by national or local governments, international agencies, academic institutions, enterprises or non-profit institutions. The nature of these institutions, and their corporative goals, establishes the type of actions to be implemented. The programs could cover many types of resources, not only from ones related to the funding (grants and other economic support), but also linguistic and health assistance and among others. Usually, the programs allow the temporary mobility of students (or early career scientists) for academic reasons. Likewise, educational methods related to online teaching and learning also have changed the
Higher Education, -in terms of the study and training technologies. These resources (related to the information society) have transformed the geographical limits allowing the study from one country to another one. So, for example, the educational institution could be in Europe meanwhile the students could be resident in Latin American. It suggests other opportunities for the home countries (especially disadvantages countries) that could be favoured by the training programs from the most prestigious universities without requiring the mobility of their nationals. Globalization and the information technologies have also transformed the relation between the funding institution and their beneficiaries. If in the past the grants-holders, normally, lost contact with the funding institution at the end of their stay; nowadays, they keep in touch through virtual networks where people can meet and exchange information, contacts and, become part of a virtual community. Likewise, these resources are an advantage for the funding institution that can now follow the trajectory of their beneficiaries, include informal support for the grant-holder, make the program more visible and market their actions more directly. 2. Mobility programs in the “Age of Internet” Some non-profit institutions have traditionally developed actions oriented to foster the student mobility among other goals. The FC is a Spanish foundation whose main objective is to promote the cooperation with less favoured regions, especially centred on Latin American community. Spain maintains strong historical, cultural and linguistic ties with these countries. The FC develops four programs of cooperation: 1. Training Program for graduate level, specialized studies or life long learning. It gives support to the holders with funding, access to the studies and other advantages. Our analysis will carry on primary focused on this program. 2. Research Program of the Centre of Studies for Latin American and International Cooperation (CeALCI), focused on the production of information and the debate on the developing countries. 3. International Visiting Program aims to lead VIP and politicians from Latin American to Spanish colleagues or institutions. 4. Social Responsibility of Enterprises Program (RSE) oriented to promote human rights, gender equality and minorities, environment and sustainable development for social agents (enterprises, consumers, organisations and associations). As a consequence of the mobility programs, the institution has undertaken two additional actions, the so called “Vivir en España” (Living in Spain) helping foreigners adapt to Spain, and “Red Carolina” (Carolina Network) which is a device for promoting the relationship, cooperation and learning of the beneficiaries of the aids given by the FC. The support of this institution takes various forms such as scholarships, registration fees, travel expenses and lodging. The amount depends on the economic conditions of the candidate and his/her origin country and even the tuition fees and the complementary funds of alternative funding institutions. The next table represents the distribution of the support given by the FC to the highly qualified personnel. Data show the number of beneficiaries of these scholarships: Figure 1. Distribution of the scholarship received by the applicants from 2004-2008 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Total 1.381 1.296 1.512 1.656 1.722 ICT area 29 28 19 33 37 Source: Elaboration from the Activity Memories of the FC
The table shows the increase of the number of grants (except 2005), that represents 25% in 2008 to respect 2004. The majority of the grants is directed towards supporting postgraduate degrees
(73%), followed by the doctorate programs (18%), and other short stays (9%). The prestigious of this program of mobility and the guarantee to be involved in university institutions in Spain attract younger graduates from Latin America. For this people, their incorporation into the labour market or the scientist community is easer once the mobility action comes to an end. A proof of the popularity of this mobility program is the persistence of candidates to continue applying for it when they have not received the mobility grant. The mobility program of the FC enjoys a very high prestige for highly skilled Latin American personnel. The mobility program of this institution corresponds with the brain circulation approach already mentioned previously. The candidates must return to their home countries once they have finished their training program. This purpose is a consequence of two circumstances. In the first place, the internationalization of the science and the increase of the student’s flows, and in the second place, the cooperation purpose of this institution. Hence, the FC is strongly engaged with the return of the holder-grants in order to protect the human resources of the less favoured countries. The aim is to provide training to the most talented people and, later, to promote with their return a “multiplying effect” in the origin community. This mission is carried out with eagerness from the moment in which the candidate is selected and accommodated in the host country till their returns. As a consequence of that, the candidates cannot stay in Spain after the period limit established by the educational program. To promote positive effects in the home community it is extremely important for the institution and this purpose is assumed by the selected candidates. The grant is almost considered a means for obtaining benefits for their communities, and the personnel success entails a collective benefit for their countries. In fact, the Foundation is currently implementing other actions focused on the collective needs of research in the less favoured countries. With this objective, they currently are financing some collective-scholarships for a group of researchers that will develop a strategical area of research after their training period in Spain. In such way, disadvantages countries will develop some strategic area of interest because they have enough human resources trained in the specific fields involved. So, FC supplies the demands of those foreign research centres, in order to obtain financial support for the training of their local researchers. Although it is a pilot project, we considerer it a useful mechanism to promoting research in developing countries and for guaranteeing positive effects in their home countries. The philosophy of brain circulation is not a perfect model for the highly skilled personnel. Often, they return to their home countries finding precarious research environments, lacking resources and thus being unable to develop their intellectual capacities (González Ramos et al, 2008). The most trained scientists are often disappointed in a non-equipped lab or without an appropriate intellectual climate. If the training effort involves a group of people and it corresponds with a useful project for the future, the action would be have more positive effects on the home country. Nevertheless, we agree that it is an innovative mode for promoting a useful research that is useful for the community, with timely goals and collective action. According to initial statements, information technologies have also changed the modes of learning for the beneficiaries of the FC. Since distance learning is a reality in the majority of the Higher Education programs throughout Europe, the postgraduate and doctorate programs selected by Latin American people can be mixed or including totally online. The teaching and courses offered by the FC adopt a traditional classroom method (84%), but 10% of them mixed both methods whereas, and 6% are totally online program. The present situation poses thus the question if distance learning could be a solution to counter brain drain in less favoured countries. Online learning could be an opportunity to receive international training for the highly qualified personnel without geographical mobility. It refers to the same meaning and functions without a drain of their highly skilled personnel. But the abroad learning program is not only a matter of the educational program; mobility entails different learning
purposes and it is also joined to other ingredients related to personal relationships, the establishment of networks, the experience of living abroad, etc. Distance learning is useful for acquiring theoretical and skills training but it lacks the experience of living abroad. The question therefore is if distance learning are attractive alternatives for potential mobility candidates? It seems that candidates could appreciate the complementary ones rather than the only educational training according to the evidence found out in our research. People interviewed (ICT highly skilled personnel with some international trajectory and with different nationalities) usually attribute playful motivations (the desire to travel and learn about other countries) as primary advantages of the international mobility (González et al, 2008). In addition, the experience of the FC also offers another evidence to confirm these results. In order to describe these results we need to explain the type collaboration between the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the FC in the Computing Studies that is currently carried out complete on the online learning program. From 2004 the Studies of Computing hold a post-graduate, Master de Software Libre, whose admit submission of grant-holders coming from the support of the FC. Although at the beginning the studies are taught by means of a mixed system, from 2007 they decided to implement a complete online learning approach because of the subjects matter offered, and the institutional focus of the OUC on the distance learning. The change towards a complete online degree made the UOC teaching staff aware about the effects on this new learning method, because the candidates seemed to prefer the traditional class-room courses and, in consequence a real geographical mobility to Spain. This fact is highlighted in the next table, where we compare the submissions, and scholarships finally received, in two post-graduate programs with very similar topics. The first one is the postgraduate in the UOC, Master Oficial de Software Libre, and the second one is the postgraduate program implemented in the University of Carlos III, Master Oficial en Ciencia y Tecnología en Informática. This program uses a class-room based method, which it is probably is the cause of the large number of submissions in the initial moment. Taking the learning method into consideration, the most important reason to choose one of the two masters (because, it is obvious that other reasons could be also involved in this issue) the studies implemented in the program of the UOC is a third less preferred than the another one teaching by the Carlos III University. Figure 2. Number of submission and received scholarship in studies implemented by the UOC and Carlos III universities in 2007-08 academic course Scholarships Submissions Women Men Women Men Master Oficial de Software Libre 62 335 4 6 (UOC) Master Oficial en Ciencia y 144 424 1 2 Tecnología en Informática (Carlos III) Source: Elaboration from the Activity Memories of the FC
In fact, the switch to a complete online learning program for the master at the UOC caused the drop out of selected candidates because the candidates are interested in travel to Spain at least during the training period. As a consequence, the teaching staff of the UOC makes their final decision about the selection of the candidates taking into account their expressed desired relative to live in Spain, on the contrary the candidates could be finally rejected it. Thus, the typical profile of a candidate for the UOC’s postgrate program is frequently associated with a civil servant or a young entrepreneur who follow the learning program via online and from their own countries. These people cannot afford living abroad for professional reasons but they are interested in this specific training program. The objective of the FC concerning to promote a positive multiplying effect in the home community is assured in these cases, because the candidates are strongly engaged with the desire to use the opportunities that offer the free
software development for their daily tasks, - even without a geographical mobility. For both types of profiles, civil servants and younger entrepreneurs, the desire to achieve these skills are related to the development of a work in the public sphere or in the business sector of their home communities. The diaspora does not exist in these cases: The specialized learning is promoted with the same peculiarities of the European Higher Education context that is linked to the prestige of European accreditations, but it is possible without geographical mobility. In sum up, despite data evidence the disappointment of most of the candidates with this type of learning method as they miss the travel opportunities, for other different profiles online method is an appropriate educational resource in order to train local elites. As consequence, distance learning programs contribute to the international cooperation by transferring specialized skills to the elites without a brain drain effect. In spite of the positive evidences showed here about the online training programs abroad, it is necessary to collect more information related to their complementary effects, and their advantages or disadvantages. We are specially interested in finding evidences in terms of the creation of networks and face to face interaction, because the lack of real mobility could prevent them from creating useful professional relationships. Managing the diaspora Mobility of the highly skilled personnel for professional reasons to encourage the creation of the social networks. The relevance of networking has been demonstrated by Saxenian (1994, 2006; Saxenian et al, 2002) in the study of the Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs living in US. This analysis has highlighted their success and the development of the region where they have established important ICT business. As a consequence, less developed countries defends the advantages of the mobility of the highly skilled personnel in order to acquire potential achievements without wasting their talent (Lucas, 2001: 22; Saxenian et al, 2002; Mera, 2005). Some authors argue that IT resources provide the connection between highly skilled personnel abroad with the home country, keeping in touch with local colleagues while they are abroad and therefore fostering the local research environment. According to their arguments, social networks are a valid way to support the weak R&D and innovation system at home countries by the national talent living abroad. The awareness of this people joints to the technologies facilities are promoting social networks establishment that favoured the contact with local community. Mera (2005) explains that a strong social identity is the key element to take advantage of their personal success (and in consequence also a professional success). They constitute a â€œfloating identityâ€? producing competitiveness in the host country and that could be used later to connect with the home country. This phenomenon is described in a similar way by Saxenian (1994, 2006) on the case of the Chinese and Indian highly skilled personnel in Silicon Valley. These people are organised around a feeling of a common identity which allows the diffusion of their ideas, a entrepreneurial initiative and other positive links that favour their own success and origin communities. Therefore, mobility of talented nationals represents an alternative position that helps to face the exhaustion of the developing countries according to certain theoretical approaches. The opportunity arises from a feeling of community, and it is established by means the facilities to IT and other advances technological resources. In this form, the talent abroad drives forward new initiatives (scientific and economic) taking advantage of the contacts and resources obtained in the host countries. Hence, social networks established by the diaspora play an innovative role for the developing countries. In the next figure, we see some examples of social networks related to these issues. Despite the
variety of actions, promoters and goals involved, the experiences are predominantly positive ones that provide important initiatives to the people and their communities. Some examples of the social networks that linked the diaspora SANSA South African Networks of Skills Abroad was created in 1998. It has more than 2.200 members distributed in 60 países where the 85% are educated in South Africa. The purpose is to connect the highly skilled personnel in science and technology with their collegues in South Africa, creating a collaborative environment and knowledge transfer. The network is oriented to promote the economic development in South Africa. CHISA Chinese Scholar Abroad http://www.chisa.edu.cn/ ASTA Arab Scientists and Technologists Abroad is an electronic directory (or database) for scientists and technicians from Arabic origin who work in advanced industrial countries. Its goal is create a space where the scientists of wathever area in abroad could be contacted by the Arab institutions interested in this expertise area. It facilites to establish conferences and workshops with governmental or private funding as well as the arab institutions in abroad. SIPA Silicon Valley Indian Professional Association attempt to support to the Indian community from the professional as well as a personal point of view. SIPA provides a common platform for the professionals joining beyond the professional roles, creating a healthy climate of mutual hep and personal growth. The goal of SIPA is to work for creating a powerful network of professional in Silicon Valley that create “influential mark” in the work for the mutual benefices. Red Caldas In 1992, the Colombian Institute for the Development of Science and Technology "Francisco José de Caldas" - COLCIENCIAS, launched the project Red Caldas as a resource of communication leads to the exchange of scientific and technological knowledge among the Colombian researchers abroad and the national scientific community. The aim is linked to the activities of science and technology of the home country. The Red Caldas is a national strategy of the international policies of the science defined for the National Science and Technology System. The objectives of this politicy facilitate the setting of the virtual community of knowledge leading by scientists and Colombian researchers in and out of this country, and the running of the participation program and public domain of knowledge of science and technology in Colombia. R@ICES Its purpose is strengh the scientific and technological capabilities of the country by means of the development of the policies oriented to link Argentinian researchers resident living abroad, as well as actions aimed at promoting the stay of the researchers in the country and the return of those people interested in developing research activities in Argentina. R@íces, Network of Argentin Researchers and Scientific in the Abroad, is a program of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, depending on the Directorate National of the International Relations. Source: Adopted of Solimano, 2008, and other web information
Besides these resources, the social networks developed around mobility programs are also frequently used by the financing institutions. These networks have several functions related to instrumental issues, support, publicity and diffusion of the promoted activities (cultural, social, scientific or types of business). Related to FC community we found three types of networks. The FC have developed an institutional network for their grant-holders named Carolina community. This is an instrument for fostering the relationships of exchange, cooperation and training growing out of the different programs of the FC (training program, research, visiting and social responsibility) between Spain and Latin America. It is aimed at fulfilling the cooperation action
beyond the limited period where beneficiaries take advantage of the FC programs. In this way, the institution wants to create value from the created links, encourage strategies of cooperation in web, and articulate some thematic networks of interest by the Foundation. This institutional network is complemented by other sub-networks related to the Foundation such as the formal network called Red Carolina de Paraguay (http://www.becascarolinapy.org/), and the informal Google-Group of Carolinos (http://groups.google.es/group/red-carolinos-fc? lnk=srg&hl=es&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8). Whilst the Red Carolina Paraguay clearly expresses the desire to travel to Spain: “¿Alguna vez soñaste con vivir y estudiar en España? ¡Esta es tu oportunidad! Desde el año 2001, cientos de paraguayos han sido beneficiados con las becas de Fundación Carolina, institución española que cuenta con programas de formación, investigación y visitas internacionales. En este sitio descubrirás cómo acceder a los programas de FC y te explicaremos cómo funciona nuestra red”. The informal network shows an interesting goal oriented to strength a feeling of community. The presentation of the Carolinos group in the website say: “Hola Carolinos, bienvenidos a este foro construido por todos nosotros en pro de la formación de redes de Carolinos para trabajar juntos, compartir experiencias y demas cuestiones de interés. Recordemos que unidos somos mas fuertes”. Every network - although directed towards the same target group – understand the meaning of building a social network somehow differently: whereas the first one is a strategic plan of the Foundation, the second one encourages the mobility of nationals to go abroad, and the third one is a friendly support to travel and meeting people. From our research perspective, we are more interested in the last one which emphasizes the community identity: United we stand, unity is strength. Beyond the informal platform, used to facilitate the movement of “Carolinos” around Spain, this network is advancing in the creation of an influential group for the future. Unfortunately, the short history of the network hinder us to make any claims about its future influence in terms of power and transformation as mentioned in its slogan: unity is strength.
Final remarks ln this work we have described some of links between diaspora of the highly skilled personnel and the IT in the brain drain phenomenon in disadvantages countries. Such analysis is inspired by the multiple influential and effects that Science, Higher Education system and IT have created in the new fluid societies. We show some circumstances where science, mobility of highly skilled personnel and IT trigger mutual transformation. There are strong accordance of the mobility of highly skilled personnel in contemporary societies correspond with a brain circulation model. Literature points that flows of highly skilled personnel increase the advantages of the countries. In the context of this work we sustain that it could affect to the cooperation between poor and rich countries, and specially advantageous factor for the developing countries. The extension of mobility around the world reinforces the transfer of knowledge and also the opportunities for the development of less favoured communities by means the use of the national talent. IT advances, educational achievements and even mobility programs contribute to improve the opportunities of people. Therefore, the extension of the the knowledge is not a resources for few people restricted to rich nations, because some people in disadvantages community could be favoured to the IT advantages and other cooperation actions. For this reason, highly skilled personnel with strong capabilities - mostly derived to the mobility experiences - would be the elites of the future independently of their geographical origin. The borders of rich-poor countries could
being blurred in terms of the access to the strategic positions. We show in this work that social networks of highly skilled personnel trained abroad could be the means to creation the next influential local elite. The study of the FC shows the relevance of the changes that IT are generating in the Higher Education, in the scientific community and the research institutions. Distance learning offers educational opportunities from highly prestigious scientific institutions even when people have to remain in their home countries. However, other elements linked to mobility seem more relevant than intellectual achievements such as personal relationships and the establishment of the networks. As the UOC case study has shown, people prefer the classical classroom method of learning than distance learning approach. It opens new research lines related to the advantages and disadvantages of the distance learning method in postgraduate degrees and, in parallel, address in the study of the mobility phenomenon for students and new elites. The results of this work prove that we need to collect more data about the positive effects that community identity produced by social networks, especially, in order to give R&D and innovation development in home countries. The presence of social networks is a sign of opportunities for less favoured countries to progress. It pays attention to insufficient explanation of the classical theories of development (Boserup, Wallerstein, and other authors) to describe contemporary events. The social networks could foster new models of development and establishing ties beyond the poor and rich countries. And, the mobility of the elite is also an opportunity for endowing them to acquire a certain engagement sense. Most of these people feel that they should compensate their home countries with their success, social networks are the via to connect them with local colleagues and return their achievements. Maybe, it means a new revolution promoted by the knowledge society challenge.
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