Chinese and Indian Engineers and their Networks in Silicon Valley

Working Paper

Published By

Shorenstein APARC, page(s): 36

March 2002

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In recent years, Asian immigrants have played an important role in Silicon Valley's growth, as suppliers of both engineering and entrepreneurial talent. Given their relatively large numbers, the Indian and Chinese communities' contributions have been particularly noted.1 The Indians' presence became more marked toward the last few years of the century, bolstered by arrivals working on the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem.2 The Chinese, by contrast, had older roots set down amid long-standing political, economic, and educational links with Taiwan.

Both communities have formed extensive ethnic professional networks,3 with large memberships and well-attended, regular "networking" events, such as monthly meetings and special interest group sessions.4 The popularity of these events suggests that members find them valuable. While some of the value is probably noneconomic, the avowedly economic mission (see below) and long-term popularity of these gatherings means that most members primarily derive economic benefits. These networks and their members are the subject of this paper.

The author acknowledges the collaboration of Professor AnnaLee Saxenian of the University of California, Berkeley, in the design of and data collection for the survey which forms part of this paper. The survey was partially funded by the Public Policy Institute of California.

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