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How can returnees help with their home country's economy?

TMCD Newsletter - October 2015

A newsletter of the Technology & Management Centre for Development at Oxford University

Can China’s returnees help re-orientate its economy?

In the current era of fierce global competition, China will need a lot of talented people to help transform its image from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created by China’. Professor Fu, Dr. Hou and Dr. Sanfilippo have studied the role of returnees in helping China become an innovation-oriented economy. 
Evidence based on 340 firms from Guangdong province suggests that:
  • There is a strong and positive relation between a firm’s choice of hiring returnees and its propensity to embark in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)
  • Not all returnees contribute equally to firms’ internationalisation. It is mainly those individuals in the most strategic functions, such as management and sales, who determine both the propensity and the intensity of FDI
  • The presence of returnees is particularly beneficial to relatively less experienced firms because it can reduce the time it takes to acquire resources and increase the knowledge necessary to invest abroad. 
The research concludes that ‘the flow of returnees back to China will not only help the world go to China, but also help China to go to the world’. 

How do India’s highly skilled returnees influence their non-migrant colleagues?

TMCD alumnus Raj Vijh’s DPhil thesis looks at the impact of highly skilled employees returning from abroad to work in India’s IT and healthcare sectors. Raj’s findings show that the return of highly skilled migrants and their transfer of knowledge resources are important for enhancing India’s economic prospects.

The study found that despite differences in contextual, organisational and sectoral issues, migrant groups form distinct – even if weakly interconnected -  knowledge networks.  And these networks create new learning opportunities, help spur innovation and facilitate socio-cultural exchanges back home.
 
But the results showed that returnees do not automatically transfer knowledge and expertise to their non-migrant colleagues. The type and nature of knowledge transferred to stakeholders in their organisations depends on the direction and strength of returnees’ social ties with non-migrants.  And returnees’, transnationals’ and non-migrants’ social ties depend on their affinity towards one another as well as the frequency of interactions and reciprocity of trust, norms and values in organisations. 

Healthcare consequences of mobile phone use in rural communities

A study by TMCD’s Marco Haenssgen is exploring mobile connectivity patterns and their healthcare implications in rural areas of China and India.
Original survey data collected by Marco, analysed in a mixed-methods research design, shows that,

  • Studying the way people use mobile phones is more useful than simply measuring mobile phone ownership if we want to understand whether and how people incorporate mobile technology into their health behaviour.
  • People who use mobile phones are more likely to access healthcare when they get sick, but more access often entails the inefficient overuse of scarce healthcare resources for non-critical conditions.
  • Rather than simplifying healthcare seeking, mobile phones enable people to engage in complicated processes that involve more diverse healthcare activities. As a result, phone users have more complex behaviours and experience more delays before reaching a doctor.

Marco’s analysis highlights some hitherto overlooked consequences of mobile phone diffusion that challenge widespread assumptions in the field of mobile technologies and health. Rather than promoting healthcare, phone users’ over-utilisation of scare healthcare resources for uncritical conditions potentially comes at the expense of more vulnerable non-mobile phone users.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with TMCD members Xiaolan Fu, Proochista Ariana, and Felix Reed-Tsochas, as well as Gari Clifford from Emory University.

Marco has been sharing his findings at the European Survey Research Association (ESRA) Conference in Iceland, the International Health Conference at Oxford’s St Hugh’s College, the Connected Life 2015 conference at Oxford’s Balliol College, and the 2015 Globelics International Conference in Cuba. He was awarded an honourable mention for the 2015 Early Career Award of the ESRA Conference.
Read more ...

TMCD helps Oxbridge talent find Chinese investment

Oxbridge entrepreneurs presented their technologies and business proposals to investors and venture capitalists at a series of Overseas Talents Entrepreneurship fora in China last month, with a view to finding investment to further develop their businesses.
 
The events aimed to provide Oxbridge doctoral candidates and research fellows as well as other overseas talents, an opportunity to commercialise their research outcomes and translate their technologies into the real-world context. TMCD involved in its capacity of advising academic entrepreneurs, Chinese investors and policy makers on technology transfer and commercialization management & policy based on the centre’s research.
A broad range of technologies - including health and medical treatment, environment protection, novel materials, electronic engineering, and information technology – where showcased.  A couple of promising projects successfully found investors, including ‘Energy-saving architectural optical film’ by Dr Qibing Zhao’s team from Cambridge University, ‘Super-inert anticorrosion composite material’ by Dr Jie Zhao’s team from Netherlands, ‘Intellectual plants cultivation system’ by the LivEco Technology Ltd. from Liverpool.
 
The fora, which took place in Beijing, Shenyang, Shenzhen and a number of other Chinese cities, were organised by TMCD, the Western Returned Scholars Association - Chinese Overseas-Educated Scholars Association (WRSA - COSA), Beijing Fangshan District Government, Shenyang Municipal Government, Shenzhen Futian District Government and Isis Innovations Ltd.

TMCD on the Conference Circuit

TMCD has had a busy few months on the conference circuit. It co-hosted the AIE Conference in Toronto, TED conference in Shanghai, as well as a couple of innovation and entrepreneurship fora. 
Read some highlights about where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing.

Call for Papers


For Special Issue of Asian Business & Management:
Local Context and Challenges of Innovation in China
 
Asian Business & Management is organising a special issue on innovation in China. They are inviting research that can deepen understanding of how Chinese firms innovate and compete in a rapidly changing domestic and international environment.
 
Guest Editors:
Dr Lutao Ning, Queen Mary University of London L.Ning@qmul.ac.uk
Dr Dylan Sutherland, Durham University Dylan.sutherland@durham.ac.uk
Professor Xiaolan Fu, University of Oxford xiaolan.fu@qeh.ox.ac.uk
To support this special issue, they are also organising a conference in China and shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in the conference.
 
Deadline for submissions: 15 December 2015.
Paper acceptance notification for the conference: 15 January 2016.
Conference date: 15-16 April 2016 (TBC).
 
For further details about the special issue, please see conference website or the Asian Business & Management website.

TMCD Upcoming Events

          15 -16 October
          Location: St Antony’s College           Title: Innovation Capabilities of Chinese Companies: 3 phases of Evolution
          Speaker: Prof Bruce McKern, our visiting fellow
          29 October @ 12:00-1:30 pm
          Location: Said Business School (Room TBC)           29 October @ 9:00-11:45 am
          Location: Said Business School (Room TBC)           2 November
          Location: Overseas Development Institute (ODI) 
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