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Title: Migration, social networks and getting jobs : British and Indian scientists in Boston
Author: Harvey, W. S.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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The geographic literature on highly skilled migrants has tended to focus on the impact of these workers on national and regional economies, including the extent to which they are contributing to a brain drain. What has not been explored in the same detail is why people leave or return to their home countries or how well they integrate into a new society including securing employment. This thesis argues that the individual social networks of highly skilled migrants are critical in helping them make migration decisions, assimilate into a new society and find jobs. My research shows that once migration occurs, it is not transnational or expatriate social networks that are most important, but rather the social relationships that highly skilled migrants form with the local population. I argue that a micro-level network perspective has been under-emphasised within the economic literature and yet is an important theoretical framework for understanding the impact of individual actors on the labour market. I show through analysing British- and Indian-born scientists working in Boston’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector that individual social networks are critical in four aspects of their lives. First, when they are making decisions to emigrate to the U.S. Second, when they are integrating into a new society. I show that most respondents are not participating in expatriate social networks but indigenous social networks with the local population. Third, when they are looking for new jobs. I argue that the debate of whether highly skilled workers use strong or weak ties for gaining information on new jobs is arbitrary because they use both types of ties depending upon the context and their personal circumstances. Fourth, when they are making decisions to return to and invest in their home countries. Although the recent literature on highly skilled migrants argues that some migrant groups do return and invest in their home countries, I argue that British and Indian scientists in Boston’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector do not demonstrate this trend.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available