Reverse Migration and Technology Transfer in Comparative Perspective: Turkey and India in light of the China experience

Overseas Cooperated Projects
Venue: India, Turkey
Beykent University (Turkey) FICCI (India) CCTR / HKUST

Abstract of Research

The brain drain robs emerging markets of entrepreneurial talent essential for generating new technologies that promote the country’s growth in the new global economy. These developing states, therefore, must find a way to regain the talent they have lost, and along with it, the technology they need. While several studies see
returnees as a vehicle for technology transfer, this project looks at how opportunities created by the possession of technology developed abroad, and that is in short supply in their home country, pulls entrepreneurs back home, creating a “brain gain.” It tests the hypothesis that, given the right conditions, market forces within some emerging economies may create a reverse brain drain and attract the technology from abroad that these countries need.
China has been a leader in generating a “reverse brain drain.” Moreover, data from 2004 show a close link between technology transfer and reverse migration, as returnees have been pulled back by business opportunities in China created by their possession of foreign technology, thereby filling holes in China’s technological landscape. Thus, beginning in the early part of the 21st century, many entrepreneurs returned to China due to their possession of a middle-range technology that was “new for China,” even though it was not necessarily “new for the world.” This middle-range technology, which was readily accessible overseas, still allowed returnees to make significant profits and establish successful firms back home, confirming this close link between possession of middle range technology and the willingness of scientists and entrepreneurs to return to their home country.
But does China’s experience reflect the situation in other Emerging Markets? Do the opportunities created by possession of technology that is in “short supply” in their home country lead entrepreneurs and scientists to return home and bring the technologies that these societies seek? Through surveys in both Turkey and India we will apply the findings of the Chinese case to see if China’s recent past reflects their current situations.

Are there ways these countries can follow the China example? Is technology indeed a major driving force of reverse migration among various countries around the world?

Project Objectives

1. Assess the extent of reverse migration underway in India and Turkey and the sectoral breakdowns of those flows.
2. Understand the forces behind the reverse migration underway in Turkey and India.
3. Assess the extent to which technology is driving reverse migration among entrepreneurs and scientists in India and Turkey.
4. Compare the case of China with those of India and Turkey to see if the Chinese example is generalizable or sui generis?