A foreign job seeker talks with two Chinese employers during a job fair for foreigners at the Beijing Talent Tower in March 2008 in Beijing, China.

Talent Flows, Brain Hubs, and Socioeconomic Development in Asia

Lessons and policy implications from the Asia-Pacific region

Mobile talent in a global context

A Shorenstein APARC research effort assesses the talent management practices and policies that leading countries in the Asia-Pacific region harness to compete in the new global knowledge economy.

Research Focus 

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 from less-developed to more-developed societies. Yet not all developed societies are equally attractive to foreign talent. Each country differs in the career and life opportunities it offers, such as work environment, governance, quality of life, immigration laws, geographic accessibility, professional attractiveness, or tolerance of immigrants. These various factors affect each country’s ability to attract and retain mobile foreign talent. The international distribution of talent is therefore highly skewed, and the resources and capacities available to countries to attract, develop, retain, and employ foreign skilled talent vary substantially.
 
In the era of the knowledge economy, however, mobile talent contributes to the creation and diffusion of knowledge, and the ability to maintain and develop a talent pool is key to competing globally. The Talent Flows, Brain Hubs, and Socioeconomic Development in Asia research project examines high-level talent flows within and across the Asia-Pacific region and their potential policy implications.
 
This new research effort builds on an earlier project, Global Talent and Innovation in Korea, which considered the Korean experience of managing global talent. Our new research project moves beyond Korea to investigate how the leading economies in the Asia-Pacific region—namely, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo—have responded to and acted upon the growing need to incorporate foreign talent.
 
The project’s goals are to empirically assess the importance of key institutional, economic, and societal factors for attracting mobile professional talent from abroad; identify best practices for talent attraction, integration, and retention; and design talent recruitment and development strategies for cities, universities, and corporations in the region.
 
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. By comparing management and human resource practices, this project will also provide generalizable insights to benefit business leaders and policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region.
 

Lead Researchers

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Gi-Wook Shin

Shorenstein APARC Director and Korea Program Director
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Gi-Wook Shin

Shorenstein APARC Director and Korea Program Director
Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor of Sociology
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Joyce Lee

Shorenstein APARC Research Project Manager
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Joyce Lee

Shorenstein APARC Research Project Manager

Publications

From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation and Linkage
Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Working Paper, 2018
[See also "Can Brain Drain Generate Gains for Less-Developed Countries?," APARC website, March 2018]


Photo credit: China Photos/Getty Images.