Keywords: brain drain, brain strain, brain circulation, scientific diasporas, diaspora knowledge networks, DKNs, developing countries, science and technology, S&, T for development, knowledge transfer, international partnerships, biotechnology
Scientific diasporas as an option for brain drain: re-circulating knowledge for development
Emigration of highly skilled workers from the global South to the global North or brain drain is a major contributing factor to the increased economic and social disparities in the developing world. The role of skilled immigrants or diasporas in contributing to technological developments in their country of origin is still poorly understood and is particularly interesting given the importance of Science and Technology (S&T) in improving the human condition and economic development. This paper will highlight the role of scientific diasporas as significant partners in development cooperation. We begin by reviewing diasporas as a source of capital for development. We briefly examine a case where skilled diasporas played a role in the technological and economic development of their home country and emphasise the empirical gaps in knowledge on how to harness S&T diasporas' potential. In the last section of this paper, we discuss policy prescriptions for turning brain drain into brain circulation. As developed countries benefit from the brain drain, we suggest they have a responsibility to foster international partnerships between developing countries and their skilled diasporas and that developed countries should make the diaspora option an integral part of their international development policy.