Talent Flows and Development
The flow of professional talent, both permanent and temporary, is a prevalent aspect of globalization. High-skilled talent moves across national boundaries in search of better professional and social opportunities, thus generally migrating from less-developed to more-developed societies. Yet not all developed societies are equally attractive to foreign talent, as each country differs in the professional and personal opportunities it offers. These various factors affect each country’s ability to attract and retain talent, which is more mobile than ever. The international distribution of talent is therefore highly skewed, and the resources and capacities available to countries to attract, develop, retain, and employ skilled talent vary substantially.
With the ascent of the global knowledge economy, in which mobile talent contributes to the creation and diffusion of knowledge, the ability to maintain and develop a talent pool is key to competing globally. There are also newfound geopolitical challenges shaping talent attraction and mobility, among them burgeoning geopolitical tensions, demographic crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Talent Flows and Development research track, an extension of the past project Talent Flows, Brain Hubs, and Socioeconomic Development in Asia, examines the high-level talent flows of the Asia-Pacific region and their potential policy implications.
This research is part of the Stanford Next Asia Policy Lab (SNAPL).
“Talent Giants in the Asia-Pacific Century” Book Project
The insights from this multi-year project are being collected in a forthcoming book that examines the talent development strategies of four Asia-Pacific countries: Australia, China, India, and Japan. The project balances in-depth country analyses with key learnings and implications for the region and beyond. The book project and related research efforts build on an earlier project, Global Talent and Innovation in Korea, which considered the Korean experience of managing global talent.
The concept of talent flow is not narrowly confined to the physical relocation of talented individuals but also includes other forms of collaboration and knowledge flows such as research partnerships between cities or universities, or personnel training programs between corporations across the world. There has been an increasing trend of shorter-term and circular migration patterns for skilled labor: for example, executives of global corporations are often required to spend part of their careers abroad. To account for this, the project adopts an interrelated “Four B” conceptual framework to categorize national talent development policies: brain train, brain gain, brain circulation, and brain linkage. Through this framework, the book utilizes historical and comparative methods to challenge conventional thinking around talent mobility and provides recommendations to policymakers for mitigating obstacles to talent development.
Other Works in Progress
Watch 'Brain Bridges," a documentary by Stanford student Dexter Simpson, which illustrates the gains of global talent flows, based on Prof. Gi-Wook Shin's research project.
Publications and Related News
Flow of Talent Among Asia-Pacific Nations Would Revitalize the Economy and National Security
Japan Spotlight, May 2023
Student Documentary Celebrates Transnational Brain Linkages
APARC website, September 2020
See also ‘Brain Bridges’: Stanford Senior Makes Documentary on Global Talent Flow
The Stanford Daily, October 2020
From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation and Linkage
Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Working Paper, 2018
Can Brain Drain Generate Gains for Less-Developed Countries?
APARC website, March 2018