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Highly skilled international migration and transnationalism1

Ibrahima Amadou Dia2 Abstract

Fundamental shifts occurring over the last century in the world challenge our understanding of human conditions, human interactions with the spaces, the structures and other human agents. Whereas the mobility has been part of human conditions, its configurations and meanings have changed in the course of global economic, political and social restructuring, improved information and communication technologies and transportation system. The occurrence of various actors in the international arena is thought as a challenge of the hegemonic power of the Nation-State. The interconnectedness of flows, people, symbols, capitals, etc. confront the one way or monolithic understanding of the social, as reflected in the international migration, a multifaceted phenomenon because of various actors, institutions, interests, social spaces. Therefore, it is increasingly a consensus among social scientists that the methodological and theoretical postures should be in line with our epoch in order to better account for the complexities of our contemporary societies. Notwithstanding growing interest and considerable literature vis-à-vis highly skilled international migration, the way it is addressed theoretically and empirically is deemed unsatisfactory. This paper reviews some of fundamental challenges in conceptualizing highly skilled international migration, assesses the criticality of the transnationalist approach in studying skilled migration, summarizes the main findings of empirical investigations on highly skilled Indians in Switzerland and, in conclusion, outlines the changing face of skilled international migration studies in light of globalization, hybridizations, localities and occurrence of actors including the Nation-State and the criticality to look at the bordercrossing practices of highly skilled migrants and their relationships with the State, the families, the local, the global.

Introduction There is a growing interest on highly skilled international migration among researchers, policymakers and governments because human capital3 is viewed as a driving force of a country's economy. Highly skilled international migration4 is a sensitive and salient topic in

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Please, do not quote: work in progress

Department of Sociology, University of Geneva Email: [email protected] See for example (Halpern, 2005; Balaz, and Williams, 2004; Bankston & Min, 2002; Portes 1998; Coleman, 1988; Bourdieu, 1986) for the definition of human capital and (Stark, Helmenstein and Prskawetz, 1998: 363367; Oded, 2004: 15-22; Mountford, 1997: 287-303) for the relationships between migration and human capital. 4 The term "highly skilled international migration" is used in this doctoral dissertation. Though, some scholars prefer the term mobility rather than the term migration (for discussions relating to the concepts of migration and mobility, see e.g. OECD, 2008 and 2002; Favell, Fieldblum and Smith, 2006: 6; Wickramasekara, 2003; Espenshade and al. 2001; Koser and Salt 1997).


contemporary societies not only because of its magnitude and scope5 but also due to the fact it raises much controversy. The globalization process coupled with larger gaps in wages, welfare and scientific opportunities between developed countries and less developed countries, the declining costs of information, communication and transportation and more open up migration policies targeting international skilled workers to OECD countries are said to largely impact on the internationalization of the labour market and the educational system and the international mobility of highly skilled6 (e.g. Chiswick, 2005: 1-3; Lowell, 2005; Zimmermann, 2005; Devesh and McHale, 2005; Antecol et al., 2003; McLaughlan & Salt, 2002; Iredale and Appleyard 2001; Straubhaar, 2000; Borjas, 1989). In addition, ongoing debates on international migration stress the developmental implications of international migration (e.g. Wescott, & Brinkerhoff, 2006; Bloch, 2005; Nyberg-Sorensen, Van Hear, Engberg-Pedersen 2005, and 2002: 3-47; Ammassari and Black, 2001) including highly skilled international migrations (e.g. Wickramasekara, 2003; Lowell, 2002). From a historical and anthropological standpoint, skilled migration is an ancient and universalistic phenomenon, as seen in the peregrination of Greek scholars such as Pythagoras in antique Egypt in the times of Pharaoh to gain new ideas and scientific knowledge (Gaillard, 1998). From a policy standpoint, skilled migration studies can be divided in two periods. The first period (1960-1980) was characterized by the prominence of brain drain issue in the international agenda as the United Nations sounded alarm to increase awareness on the

Although low skilled migrants and migrants admitted on the grounds of family reunification and humanitarian reasons represent the largest share of the volume of international migration, highly skilled migration from developing to developed countries is on the rise since the nineties (OECD, 2002). There is also a significant movement of highly skilled workers among developed countries. According to estimates from Carrington and Detragiache (1999) based on data collected in 1990, the USA concentrated 7 million out of the 12.9 million of skilled migrants residing in OECD countries while skilled migration in other OECD countries, mainly European countries stood at 5.9 million. In 1990, the regional distribution of skilled migrants was as follow: 15% for Central America, 6% for Africa, 3% for South America and 5% for Asia. Over 30% of the total skilled workers from Africa, Caribbean and Central America are involved in international migration. Major sending countries include China, India, Iran, Korea, Philippines and Taiwan. Estimates from IOM point to one third of R&D professionals from developing countries living in OECD countries (Cervantes & Guellec, 2002). Student migration in the OECD countries that stood to 1.5 million of students originated mostly from developing countries (Stalker, 2000) impacts largely on the rise of the volume of highly skilled international migration. The USA is one of the main attractions for highly skilled migrants, mainly highly skilled workers from India, China, Russia, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and the UK (OECD, 2002). The USA as a main recipient of highly skilled international migrants is followed by Europe. Highly skilled migrants represent a large share of the skilled labour force in the US. The number of skilled personals holding masters or doctorate degree accounts for 10% of the foreign born (Grieco, 2004, quoted by Charloff & Lemaitre, 2009: 11). The percentage of skilled workers detaining masters or doctorate degree among the foreign born granted permanent residency in Canada in 2006 was approximately 8% (CIC, 2006; quoted by Charloff & Lemaitre, 2009: 11). Since the eighties Europe has observed an increased international highly skilled mobility (Salt & al., 2005). Educational attainment among immigrant engineers and scientists is higher compared to the native-born in the USA (Alarcon, 2004: 28-41). While countries as Canada and the United Kingdom attract highly skilled workers especially from developing countries, they face also emigration of their skilled nationals mainly to the USA (e.g. Schwanen (2000) and Iqbal (2000) for Canada). Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland have set up some programs to attract highly skilled nationals back and to address the growing skilled outmigration ((Van der Poel, 2004; Cervantes et Guellec, 2002).



See OCDE (2008); Pethe (2007)


negative effects of brain drain in developing countries. There was an extensive literature on brain drain and its impacts on sending countries. The second period in the early nineties was characterized by the rise of interpretations in terms of brain gain and brain exchange. The impacts of the globalization process, information technology communication and the sociopolitical and economic transformations (for instance in former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries) on the rise of highly skilled international migration have resulted in shifts on the brain drain discourse (Wickramesekara, 2003: 7). Studies of skilled migration7 have analyzed various aspects of highly skilled international migration. There are studies focusing on highly skilled migration in general and analyzing onwards and outwards flows in various countries (e.g. Docquier & Marfouk, 2006: 151-169; Carrington & Detragiache, 1998; Salt, 1997) or providing a state of art of the causes, impacts and policy options on highly skilled migration worldwide or on regional and national level (e.g. OECD, 2008, 2002; IOM, 2008;8 Solimano & Pollak, 2004; Lowell, Findlay and Stewart, 2004; Findlay and Stewart, 2002; McLaughlan and Salt, 2002; Lowell, and Findlay, 2001). Other studies relate to the specific professional categories within highly skilled migrants' group, such as health workers (e.g. Miller et al. 1998), bankers (e.g. Beaverstock, 1994), scientists and academics (e.g. Mahroum, 1999; Johnson & Regets, 1998; Gaillard & Gaillard, 1998; North, 1995) or specific nationalities (e.g. Song, 1997; Findlay & Garrick, 1989). There are also studies that accent the effects of skilled migration on sending countries (e.g. Mountford, 1995; Bhagwati & Partington, 1976) and on receiving countries (e.g. Gover & Huray, 1998; North, 1995). However, notwithstanding considerable literature on skilled migration, the understanding of the skilled migration phenomenon is still unsatisfactory, as ideological considerations, lack of accurate and disaggregated data and essentialism lead to much controversy, conflations and pitfalls.9 The globalization process, the internationalization of scientific exchange and the need for foreign skilled labour force in richer countries, the increasing participation of scientists and researchers from Southern countries on international scientific networks, the difficulty to stop

In general terms, Massey (1999) and Massey and al. (1993, 2005) have categorized migration studies by the level of analysis (see also Bretell et Hollifield, 2000), the sample size of the study and the point of focus in the process of migration. The level of analysis includes the level of individual, the household level and the level of social structure. Concerning the sample size of the study, there are studies that emphasize migration within a single country; migration between two countries; migration within regions or; migration cross-nationally and empirically (Portes, 1997b.). Regarding the process of migration, studies are focused on the origins and causes of international migration (e.g. Diaz-Briquets, 1987; Sassen, 1988; Portes, 1978, 1979; Portes and Walton, 1981; Ricketts, 1987) or on social network theory that is the conditions for the reproduction of migration flows (e.g. Kandel and Massey, 2002; Massey, 1990b) (in Massey and al., 1993).

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See the chapter written by Lowell (2008: 51-76) in IOM (2008) World Migration Report

These shortcomings and pitfalls will be analyzed in later sections. It is worth mentioning that such ambivalences are common to the migration studies in general. For ambivalences on the study of migration from an economist perspective, see for example Fischer (1999). From a sociological and demographist perspective, see Massey, Joaquim, Graeme, Kouaouci, Pellegrino and Taylor (2005) et al. (2005), Castles (2007). For obstacles concerning multidisciplinarity in the study of migration, see Boswell (2008: 549-566). For a broader understanding of the crisis of highly skilled international migration studies, see Favell and Smith (2006).


skilled migration and the recognition of the positive effects of migrations have prompted some sending countries to question the "brain drain" perspective by finding out ways to mobilize the resources of their highly skilled nationals abroad to contribute to national development. This shift, that is brain gain, suggests that highly skilled international migration can become assets for the country of origin rather than a substantial loss (e.g. Wescott & Brinkerhoff, 2006; Kuznetsov, 2006; OECD 2008, 2002; Meyer & Brown, 1999; Meyer and al., 1997). While some scholars point out the shift on the debate on highly skilled migration (from brain drain to brain gain), brain drain continues to be used alongside numerous other definitions and interpretations, thereby reflecting the ambivalences of highly skilled international migration issues. One the one hand, highly skilled international migration is deemed as a scientific "hemorrhage" and as a dispossession of the best and brightest talents for the benefit of developed countries (e.g. Faini, 2003; Mudende, 1989; Bhagwati, 1976; Hamada and Bhagwati, 1976). On the other, it is viewed as a virtuous circle that can be beneficial both to skilled migrants, the country of origin and the country of destination (e.g. Wescott, Brinkerhoff, 2006; Findlay, 2002; Regets, 2001; Solimano, 2001 b; Lowell and Findlay, 2001b; Meyer, 2001; Gaillard, 1998: 25-50; Salt, 1997).10 Another perspective considers highly skilled international migration as entailing both losses and gain (e.g. Dia, 2004; Beine, Docquier and Rapport, 2003; Commander, Kangasniemi and Winters, 2002). The "diaspora" option is considered as a mechanism to convert brain drain into brain gain and to strengthen the contribution of highly skilled migrants as far as the development of their country of origin is concerned (e.g. Wescott & Brinkerhoff, 2006; Séguin, Singer, Daar, 2006: 1602-1603; Barre, Hernandez, Meyer, Vinck, 2003; Meyer, 2001: 91-110; Meyer and al., 1997: 285-315). From the standpoint of the promoters of the diaspora option, the "physical" return of skilled nationals abroad is not a prerequisite condition to mobilize the skills and resources of the "diaspora" for the benefit of the country of origin. Highly skilled migrants can contribute to various projects and programs related to the development of the country of

Scholars hold divergent interpretations as to the impacts of skilled migration. While the highly skilled international migration is a multifaceted phenomenon (Gaillard and Gaillard 1998; Stark 2004; Lien and Wang 2005; Vinokur 2006), nationalists and internationalists have interpreted it in a unidirectional way. From a nationalist standpoint (brain drain interpretation, see for example Patinkin, 1964; Watabe, 1969; Bhagwati, 1976; Todaro, 1985 and theorists of international dependency such as Frank, 1967; Dos Santos, 1970), the highly skilled international migration is a result of the negative insertion of developing countries in the global economic system. Skilled migration is viewed as a brain drain that undermines the economic growth, the educational system and the scientific and technological research of the developing countries. From the internationalist viewpoint (brain gain interpretation, see for instance Johnson, 1964; Grubbel and Scott, 1977; recent "beneficial brain drain" or brain gain studies (e.g. Mountford, 1997; Vidal, 1998; Beine, Docquier and Rapoport, 2001), highly skilled workers from the developing countries immigrating to the developed countries are in a search of higher wages, better professional prospects, international prestige, human security, etc. The decision to emigrate expresses a free choice to maximize gain that can be profitable to migrants and the whole society that is virtuous circle rather vicious circle. This brain gain perspective is derived from the "endogenous growth" theories that accent technology and learning.



origin through scientific diasporas networks11 and by using information technology communication. Albeit a "revisionist" version of brain drain, the perspectives in terms of brain gain, brain exchange and diaspora are viewed as insufficient and narrow for an in-depth understanding of highly skilled international migration issues. These interpretations underestimate the negative effects of skilled migration on sending countries especially economically poor regions and the deskilling and deprofessionalization process of highly skilled migrants ("brain waste"). Recent studies have criticized the hyped optimism and excitement toward scientific diasporas networks as many sending countries can neither meet the supportive conditions that favour the creation and the maintenance of scientific diasporas networks nor can enhance an effective partnership between scientific diasporas members and the local scientific community with respect to science, technology and economic development (e.g. Gaillard and Gaillard, 1998, 2002; Lowell, 2004; Faini, 2003). This study aims at providing an understanding of the complexities of the highly skilled international migration phenomenon by analyzing the case of highly skilled Indians living in Switzerland through a transnationalist perspective. Its purpose is to move from simplistic assumptions in terms of brain drain, brain gain, brain waste, etc. by exploring the meanings, dynamics and stakes of the highly skilled international migration. It strives to contribute to the debate on migrations theories by assessing the criticality of the transnationalist approach in understanding the societal dimensions and implications of highly skilled international migration. Although the migration literature is largely influenced by the ascendency of the "nation-state" paradigm" (methodological nationalism), we believe that the transnationalist theory can help better understand contemporary highly skilled international migration. Transnationalism challenges the assimilation theory and the "methodological nationalism" (Wimmer and Glick Schiller, 2003) that are viewed as insufficient to grasp the complex meanings and dynamics of contemporary international migration. The reminder of this study is the following. Firstly, we will try to address the controversies over the definition of highly skilled international migration and of highly skilled migrant. Secondly, we will define transnationalism and assess its criticality towards understanding contemporary international migration in general and highly skilled international migration in particular. The third section will be devoted to provide an understanding of the shift due to the rise of transnationalist discourse on migration studies and its role in deconstructing the methodological nationalism one the one hand, and on the other, the threat of methodological transnationalism due to the inflationary use of the concept of transnationalism. The fourth section presents the main findings of our research on Indian highly skilled international migration in Switzerland. In the conclusion, we will address the strengths and limitations of the transnationalist approach towards understanding highly skilled international migration and

In other writings, the terms "diasporas networks" (e.g. Kuznetsov (ed. by), 2006; Mahroum and de Guchteneire, 2006) or "skilled diasporas" are being preferred rather than scientific diasporas viewed as restrictive to scientific and technological carriers and activities.



suggest some elements for future research agenda on sociology of highly skilled international migration. I Defining highly skilled international migration Highly skilled international migration is due to various causes, circumstances, actors and situations (Meyer et Hernandez, 2004; Sklair, 2000; Straubhaar, 2000; Appleyard 1991), which makes it difficult defining such phenomenon. The definition of skilled migration is contentious. Skilled migration is used indistinctly for any individual holding higher education level. Skilled migration is seen as "brain drain" (Schiff, 2005, Kapur and McHale, 2005, Schiff, 2005), "brain gain"(Meyer and Brown, 1999; Saxenian, 1999 & 2002; Gaillard, 1999, etc.), "brain waste" (Özden and Schiff, 2005),"brain strain" (Lowell et al., 2004), "brain exchange" and "brain circulation"(Vertovec, 2002; Saxenian, 2002; Gaillard, 1999), "brain overflow", "reverse transfer of technology", "transit brain drain", "delayed return", "skilled transient" migration, "brain mobility", `skilled international migration' (Findlay, 1991); `skilled international labour circulation' (Cormode, 1994); `professional transients' (Appleyard, 1991); the `migration of expertise' (Salt and Singleton, 1995), the migration of talent or the migration of human resource in science and technology (OECD, 2002 and 2008), the "migration of knowledge workers" (Khadria, 2001: 45-71; 1999; ) etc. (see box n° 1). In addition, various terms have be used to portray the human agents engaged in international highly skilled migration: "highly skilled workers, qualified personnel, "human resources in science and technology" (OECD, 2002 and 2008), scientists and engineers, IT workers, "brains" (in "brain drain", "brain gain" or "brain circulation"), "talents", "highly skilled professionals"(Auriol & Sexton, 2002: 14), "highly skilled foreign workers" (McLaughlan and Salt, 2002), etc. Skilled migrant workers are categorized based on international standard classifications of professionals as the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) and the International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO). International classifications accent the supply side of human resources in terms of their skills and qualifications (education) or the demand side for highly skilled workers (occupation). The classification of highly skilled professionals or Human Resource devoted to Science and Technology (HRST) elaborated by the OECD and Eurostat, The Manual on the Measurement of Human Resources of 1995, better known as "the Canberra Manual Definition" includes both educational attainments and qualifications. The Canberra Manual definition of highly skilled personnel covers scientific and technological occupations related to research and development. The term human resource in science and technology (HRST) includes various professional categories, of which some may change occupation in the course of their career. This definition of highly skilled based solely on scientific and technological occupations is narrow as it conceals professions as businessmen, managers, teachers, healthcare providers, etc. The Canberra Manual definition does not ease the measurement of the share of skilled migrants in the HRST population of a host country. More often, data sources from labour force surveys, international education statistics and census data do not facilitate a clear breakdown of statistics related to highly skilled migrants. It is also difficult to have internationally


comparable12 data on skilled migrant workers and a large picture of the situation of the skilled immigrant population in a given country (Guellec & Cervantes, 2002: 72). Although there is no standardized definition of highly skilled migrants, the most internationally accepted one is a person holding "tertiary" education level or "extensive /equivalent experience in a given field" (Lowell and Findlay, 2001 b). There are various definitions of the skilled immigrant population and the highly skilled across OECD countries. In the European countries, Japan and Korea, the way immigrant population is defined does not allow specifying who are temporary and who are permanent immigrants, "as individuals may legally and administratively have temporary status and be de facto long term immigrants". While an immigrant is defined in Japan and in Korea as an individual holding a foreign passport, in the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and European countries, an immigrant is defined as a foreign born (including naturalized individuals) (Guellec & Cervantes, 2002: 72). The United Nations defines a long-term migrant as a person who leaves to a country of residence other than his country of origin for a period of at least one-year while short-term migrants are individuals moving to another country for a period at least three months but not exceeding a year. This definition does not take into consideration international travelers (tourists, short-term business travelers, frontier workers, pilgrims, etc.) considered as "non-migrants". In total, the lack of consensus as to the criteria to define a highly skilled migrant, the difficulty to internationally harmonize statistics, terminologies and data collection vis-à-vis highly skilled migration result in partial or unidirectional approaches and definitions. Migration concepts and terminologies vary from one country to another, so as methods, data collection and statistics despite efforts to encourage comparability in international terms (for instance: OECD's SOPEMI, EUROSTAT). In a recent OECD document, Charloff & Lemaitre (2009: 12) outline three definitions of highly skilled based on education, occupation and wage level. The way highly skilled international migration is understood by the players involved in the migration processes (governments, skilled migrants, private recruitment agencies, employers, etc.) may result in akin or divergent perspectives and interests. What stands out is that the numerous terminologies and concepts reflect the changing dynamics of skilled migration studies and the complexities of highly skilled international migration issues (Jöns, 2008). While, highly skilled migrant is defined in terms of credentials in one situation, what matters somewhere else is the qualifications or both educational attainment and professional experience. In addition, the boundaries between the highly skilled migrants and the unskilled and low skilled migrants are to some extent not clear as the latter may be wrongly excluded from the highly skilled list because of the lack of international recognition of their credentials and qualifications. Disaggregating the category of the highly skilled can help better understand the heterogeneity among highly skilled migrant group. However, existing statistics hardly enable disaggregating data

According to Docquier and Marfouk (2006: 153): "Many institutions consider the lack of harmonized international data on migration by country of origin and education level as the major problem for monitoring the scope and impact of brain drain in developing areas".



II Defining transnationalism Transnationalism has emerged as a major theoretical framework in understanding contemporary international migration, and as such challenges the classical vision of migration as merely a movement from a sending country to a receiving country by stressing the complex interactions between different spaces outside a fixed national container (Portes 1997: 812). Migrants construct transnational spaces, which are "relatively stable, lasting and dense sets of ties reaching beyond and across the borders of sovereign states. They consist of combinations of ties and their contents, position in networks and organizations, and networks of organizations that cut across the borders of at least two nation-states" (Faist, 2004: 3-4). The rise of the concept of transnationalism follows the observation of Glick Sheller and colleagues of the failure of classic approaches based on the state nation to reflect the complexities of contemporary international migration: "The research team soon discovered that the lives of their "subjects" did not fit into the expected research categories of "immigrants" and those "remaining behind". Their experiences and lives were not sharply segmented between host and home societies... It becomes difficult to identify where they belonged." (Basch, Glick Schiller & Szanton Blanc 1995: 5). The concept of transnationalism can be defined as the process in which migrants produce and maintain various forms of social relations between societies of origin and host societies. This concept relates to the process of production and reproduction of social ties between migrants, their country of origin and country of destination. It expresses the multiple social links of migrants that span the boundaries of states-nations (see Glick Schiller et al. 1992, Portes et al. 1999a). Migrants produce and maintain various links in different sites, depending on circumstances, activities and resources. They have multiple affiliations or belongings including the homelands and the host society. The ability to link here and there and to create and maintain diverse and complex relationships between the country of origin and the country of destination is central in the conceptualization of transnationalism. These links take multifaceted forms: family, religious, cultural, economic, political, etc and reflect the abilities of migrants to maintain the ties with the country of origin while coping with the realities of the host societies (Basch, Glick-Shellir and Szanton-White, 1994; Faist, 2000). Transnational communities are shaped by the transmigrants (Portes, 1999) through various social networks and interstitials. Technological changes in transportation and communication have contributed to the rise of transnational communities (in Rea et Tripier, 2008: 41). Transnationalism has also been conceptualized as social space spanning the borders of states ­ nations; as an expression of diasporic identity; as cultural reproduction or hybridism; as resource for transnational corporations and for families and friends in the country of origin in terms of remittances; as a basis for political commitment towards the country of origin and vis-à-vis international non-governmental organizations (INGOs); and as a way of reconceptualizing the notion of place (e.g. the notion of translocal) (Vertovec, 1999: 449456). The transnational discourse points to how national cultures and political systems are influenced by the local and the global patterns and how the hegemonic power of the state8

nation is challenged "from above" by the impacts of international financial flows, communication systems and multilateral political institutions and; "from below" by various forms of localities (informal economy, ethnic nationalism, grassroots activism) (Guarnizo, Smith, 2007: 3). Transnationalism is thought as enabling factor of the globalization process and as a component of it (Pries). Transnationalism has emerged as a core concept in contemporary migration literature though this concept is hindered by ambivalences. Transnationalism is defined as "the migratory counterpart to other contemporary discussions of manifestations of transnationalism, particularly those related to corporate capitalism as globalization; as a process of hybridization or creolization" (Soysal 1994; Appadurai 1996; Castells 1996, 1997; Hannerz 1996; Sassen 1996) and as the transnationalization of NGOs (in Kivisto, 2001: 449- 550). Increasing labour migration flows especially from developing to developed countries, growing refugee flows escaping conflicts and difficult living conditions, the rise of new destination countries and places of settlement, changes in global economic system and citizenship and the emergence of a globalized popular culture (hybridization), the limitations of the State centered approach have resulted in a need to rethink contemporary international migration through transnational approach (Kivisto, 2001: 550; Castells and Miller, 1993; Stark 1981; Itzigsohn, 2001: 281-296). The transnational theoretical construct13 points to the complex social interactions that occur within and between various social fields and social spaces and the multifaceted forms of migrants' identifications. The transnationalist perspective questions the figure of immigrant as assimilated that have prevailed largely in migration studies over the last decades (e.g. Massey et al. (1993), Basch et al.,1992; Rea et Tripier, 2008: 41). Due to recurrent misuses, the concept of transnationalism has become vague, "slippery" and ambivalent (Kivisto, 2001: 550; Guarnizo & Smith, 2007: 64; Malher, 1998: 66; Waldinger 2008: 3-29). A range of terminologies has been used to depict transnationalism ("transnational social field" (Schiller et al. 1992; 1995), "transnational migrant circuit" (Rouse 1991, 1992; 1995; Goldring 1996), "binational society" (Guarnizo 1994), "transnational community" (Georges 1990; Portes 1995; Smith 1995); "network" (Kearney 1995 b: 231), "global ethnoscape" (Appadurai 1991), "social cultural system" (Sutton 1987), which can result in misunderstandings and conflations. To address these conceptual gaps, some authors suggest using the terms such as "transnational social field" and transnational "processes", "activities" and "ties". According to Malher (2007: 75), transnational "social field" seems more appropriate as it reflects "(...) multiple, overlapping and even conflictive social fields" created or recreated by transmigrants.


For a better understanding of the different perspectives of transnationalism, see Kivisto (2001: 55) who distinguishes three forms of transnational approach the perspective of cultural anthropologists (e.g. Glick Schiller, Basch, and Szanton Blanc 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997); the perspective of sociologists (e.g. Portes (1996a, 1996b, 1998, 1999a, 1999b; Portes, Guarnizo and Landolt (1999) and Portes (1995), Portes and Zhou 1999); and the perspective of political science (e.g. Faist (1998, 2000a, 2000b, 2000c))


According to Rea & Tripier (2008: 41), the concept of transnationalism complements rather than substitutes traditional approaches based on the prominence of state-nation in international migration. Studies of international migration from the transnationalist standpoint have largely focused on low and unskilled migrants although there is an increasing interest on the relationships between highly skilled international migration and transnationalism (Hugo). The brain circulation was coined to better reflect the increasing transient and transnational nature of the highly skilled international migration at the event of globalization (e.g. Ackers 2005a; Jönes, 2008) while scientific diaspora networks or the diaspora option accounts for the possibilities of connecting highly skilled nationals abroad with the local counterparts on various aspects notably in science, technology and education for the homeland development. The transient nature of their move makes them more reluctant to transnational practices although the transnational practices have been less investigated compared to low skilled migration originally from developing countries. The "brain circulation" perspective suggests that the highly skilled international mobility tends to be more transient rather than permanent. The concept of brain circulation supports the viewpoint that free-floating highly skilled migrants are moving in a "World City" where the economy is nationally and politically boundless (Friedmann, 1986). The increased networks character of the international flows of highly skilled workers in a World / Global City (Sassen, 1991) with resulting transnationalization processes better reflects the changing nature of highly skilled international mobility (Gaillard, 1997, 1998). III. International migration: from methodological nationalism to methodological transnationalism? Social sciences in general including migration studies have been fundamentally driven by methodological nationalism (Beck, 2000, 2002 b; Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002; Castles, 2007: 355-358): "Methodological nationalism is the naturalization of the global regime of nation-states by the social sciences. Scholars who share this intellectual orientation assume that national borders are the natural unit of study, equate society with the nation-state, and conflate national interests with the purposes of social science. Methodological nationalism reflects and reinforces the identification that many scholars maintain with their own nation-states" (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2003: 576). The methodological nationalism14 points to the tendency in social sciences to view society and state as reciprocally determined in such way that state and territory condition and contain national societies and individuals (Beck, 2006: 24, 57). As a result, migration, citizenship and State have been fundamentally conceptualized from the methodological nationalism standpoint (Levitt & Glick-Schiller, 2003; Beck, 2002b, 2000). Social sciences have been influenced by three modes of methodological nationalism ("ignoring, naturalization and

See also Chernilo (2006), Wimmer & Glick-Schiller (2002, 2003); Levitt & Glick-Schiller (2003); Rantanen (2005 a) ; Beck (2000, 200b, 2006) ; Sassen (2003). For an overview of the historical development of the methodological nationalism, see Wimmer & Glick-Schiller (2002)



territorial limitation") that mutually reinforce each other irrespective of the epistemological standpoint of the observer (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 305). The modern world is conceptualized through the triangle "nation- State - society" (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002; Chernilo, 2006). These three modes of methodological nationalism (ignoring, naturalization and territorial limitation) have affected mainstream migration theories and the way migration is perceived and represented (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 325). Methodological nationalism is largely focused in monoculturalism or cultural uniformity and dualisms and less on border crossing identities and practices (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002; Hintzen, 2003). Methodological nationalism has led to the delineation of the national and the international sphere, the local and global, us and them. Nation is equated to the state from the methodological nationalism angle (Beck, 2006: 59; Beck & Sznaider, 2006: 3). The preponderance of the methodological nationalism in the social science has resulted in a territorially bound conception of culture, thus obscuring cultural pluralism, hybridizations, alternative and functional identities, transnational and cosmopolitan processes (Levitt & Glick-Schiller, 2003; Beck, 2002b, 2000). Alternative models are wrongly conceived in a dualistic way; that is universal uniformization (or the macdonalidization of the culture) versus the incommensurability (Beck, 2006: 60). The methodological nationalism has been used to understand the modern societies, but seems inappropriate to explain the transnational and cosmopolitan processes (Castles, 2007:, Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 326). At the present time, migration is no longer seen as an exception and the conventional wisdom of sedentarity as the main characteristic of human condition is deconstructed although the statement "we are all migrants" is also contentious. Notions such as sedentarity, territory, nation-state are theoretically and empirically challenged and supplanted by human mobility, hybridity, complexity, deterritorialization, denationalization, fluidity, transnational processes (see Urry 2000; Papastergiadis 2000) (in Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 326). Transnationalists have pointed out the wrongly dichotomy between sovereignty and citizenship, the people and the nation and challenged the conception of nation as the fundamental analytical reference in understanding modern societies. Individuals and groups have the capacity to act, articulate multiple belongings rather than being contained in a fixed national entity (see Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002; Hintzen, 2003). Transnationalism helps deconstructing and reconceptualising the national which has been taken for granted long time by social scientists (Beck & Lau, 2005). The concept of "long distance nationalism" expresses cross-border citizenry (Glick Schiller & Fouron 2001 a: 1720). Cross-border citizenry reflects various links forged by different groups located in various territories sharing common ancestor and government and willing to act in favour of the homeland. Because of these ideological links, a trans-border enterprise is produced, composed by an assemblage of territory, people and government (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 323). Transnational processes are linked to the global phenomena although they have distinct patterns. Critics of the methodological nationalism point to its tendency to conflate the nation and the global, which is based on the wrong assumption that analyzing a specific nation is sufficient in understanding the fundamental characteristics of the world or the global society.


Nevertheless, it has been reported persisting influence of methodological nationalism even in studies of contemporary international migration, transnationalism and long distance nationalism (Wimmer & Glick-Schiller, 2002: 323). Even the conceptualization of diaspora, hybridization, denationalization and transnationalization is hitherto filtered by methodological nationalism (Beck, 2006: 60). Most studies related to highly skilled international migration have not escaped the temptation of the methodological nationalism. Highly skilled migration has been conceptualized largely under the frame of state-nation. From the methodological nationalism standpoint, knowledge is conceptualized as nationally bound. Therefore any physical move of a skilled worker is said to jeopardize national educational system as well as national scientific and technological capabilities of the sending countries and to benefit the receiving countries, mainly developed countries (see nationalist interpretation). One of the consequences of the preponderance of methodological nationalism within studies of skilled migration is that the skilled migration phenomenon is constantly referred to national development and nation-state in general whether from the angle of sending or receiving countries. The ensuing effects of the correlation between skilled migration and development is that skilled migrations is assessed in terms of its positive or negative impacts on the national economic growth, the construction and the maintenance of national identity, skilled migrants' involvement on homeland development programs and projects as an expression of national allegiance and citizenry, etc. Otherwise, those who moved have been (or are still) portrayed as betraying their homeland and strengthening economically advanced receiving countries. Therefore, from a methodological nationalism, the national is the fundamental analytical and normative reference towards understanding notions such as development, elite, science, technology, education, knowledge, citizenship, identity in the context of highly skilled international migration. Addressing the weakness of the methodological nationalism does not mean the end of the nation-states with respect to international migration. More realistically, challenging the national container and finding out appropriate theoretical and methodological tools are aimed at "reducing complexity" that contemporary migrations entail. The cosmopolitanism15 and the postnationalism can help deconstructing nationalism and its correlates but should not be

The aim of Beck is to lay the foundations for the sociology of cosmopolitanism by developing concepts and methods for understanding an increasingly cosmopolitan world (Beck 2006:75­96). To portray the transformations occurring in the world with the transition from the first to the second age of modernity, Beck uses the idea of `cosmopolitanization': `cosmopolitanization is a non-linear, dialectical process in which the universal and particular, the similar and the dissimilar, the global and the local are to be conceived, not as cultural polarities, but as interconnected and reciprocally interpenetrating principles' (Beck 2006: 72­3). In addition, he uses the idea of `banal cosmopolitanism' to describe how cosmopolitanism is increasingly embedded in everyday life, as exemplified in the existence of multiple allegiances and spaces of belongings, cultural hybridizations and the transnationalization of law and politics (Beck 2006: 40­4). For an overview the critics against Beck' standpoint, see for example: Chernilo 2007, 2006 :5-22; Fine, 2007.



considered as exempt from criticisms. It should be mentioned that "nationalism is a powerful signifier that continues to make sense for different actors with different purposes and political implications" (Fouron & Glick Schiller forthcoming; Friedman 1996; Glick Schiller & Fouron 2001 a, 2001 b) (in Wimmer & Glick Schiller, 2002: 326- 327). Rather than being marginalized as if highly skilled international migration was only governed by the market forces and the globalization, the nation-states play an important role in facilitating and in managing the international circulation of highly skilled workers through their immigration policies (see OECD, 1998) and at the same time is implicated in the global economic system (Sassen). In conclusion, one of the main challenges facing sociology is whilst aiming for internationality; its underpinnings remain strongly national, as seen in migration theories and studies. The challenge for mainstream sociology in contemporary societies is to stress globalization and transnationalism, while it was conceived as "the science of "national industrial societies" in the nineteenth and early twentieth century (Wieviorka, 1994). Migration studies are conceptualized and conducted more often based on the nation-state paradigm or "methodological nationalism", with ensuing pitfalls and unquestioned "common sense" (Zolberg) most notably with respect to contemporary migrations. The prominence of the methodological nationalism in migration studies illustrates the importance of the state in terms of border control, restriction over citizenship. To address the tyranny of the methodological nationalism, migration sociologists should have a closer look of the global and transnational phenomena and their relationships with the national and the local elements. Global economic, political and cultural restructurings have led to rethinking migration and migrants outside the national boundaries. Cross-national comparative studies since the 1970s, migration systems theory (see Kritz et al. 1992) and transnationalism since the 1990s (e.g. Basch et al., 1994; Portes et al., 1999) have contributed to questioning the national container that underpinned most migration studies. Nevertheless, theories and methods of migration have been largely and are still influenced by methodological nationalism. Innovative theoretical constructs are needed as most concepts and ideas used to explain migration are originated in the nineteen century and hardly enable a thorough understanding of the complexities of contemporary migration. Rethinking international migration implies capturing the empirical conditions of the human mobility outside the classical prism inherited in the nineteen century. Classical approaches originated in the nineties century having shown their limits, scholars have to entrench their studies of international migration in the context of contemporary societies (Castles, 2007: 356-358; Massey & al., 1993: 431-466). According to Iredale (2001: 7), the way highly skilled international migration is theorized is more often unsatisfactory. Many hindrances hamper the study of highly skilled international migration. Among them, one could mention five elements: firstly, the greater tendency to conceptualize this issue within the container of the nation-state or the influence of the methodological nationalism; secondly, the larger focus on economic and policy dimensions; thirdly, the hindering nature of emotional and ideological considerations and the highly politicization of skilled migration, fourthly the tendency to reify skilled migration and, fifthly


the neglect of highly skilled migrants experiences, identities, perceptions, trajectories and practices. The conceptualization of transnational migrants as free floating people out of the control of Nation-States gives a simplified vision of the interactions between migrant, the home country and the receiving country as well as the criticality of the locality in shaping transnational processes. Rather than of "transcendence" of national borders, the practices in which migrants maintain links with families and communities in the country of origin and the ensuing symbolic elements and social and economic support, the incorporation of transnational practices into locally daily life (mailing, remittances, phone calls, etc.) are fundamental elements in need of in-depth understanding. This reflects the need to "descend from the national to the level" rather than conceiving transmigrants as unbounded agents (Smith, 2000:205; Guarnizo & Smith, 1998: 20). IV. Summary of the preliminary findings of the research on Indian highly skilled international migration in Switzerland This doctoral dissertation, based on a qualitative survey, aims at providing an understanding of the causes and stakes of international highly skilled migration from India to Switzerland. It will provide a sociological portray of highly skilled migrants by analyzing their socio ­ demographic characteristics and their daily life in Switzerland. Research objectives It also strives to analyze the nature and characteristics of migrants' initiatives toward the country of origin, the links between highly skilled migrants, the country of origin and the host country and how highly skilled migrants conducts transnational practices. We shall also provide an understanding of skilled Indians' perceptions with regard to their lives, identities, the host country, the homeland country, issues relating to citizenship, globalization, etc and their strategies and practices in the course of the international migration processes. Then, this research will scrutinize the skilled migrants' initiatives with regard to the country of origin reflecting their strengths and limits. We shall also underline highly skilled migrants' practices towards the homelands, how they operate and under which circumstances these practices can contribute to the development of the homeland country based on Indian skilled migrants' perceptions and practices; and also their involvement into associations and networks, the process of formation of these associations, their nature, meanings and dynamics. Finally, it is also a scope of this research to analyze highly skilled migrants' perceptions and discourses vis-à-vis the country of origin, the country of destination and scientific diasporas themselves alongside their educational and professional situation and the level of integration in Switzerland and their contribution on science, technology and development toward the country of origin. The way highly skilled migrants perceive the development of homeland country, their contributions in this respect and the ensuing practices and strategies have not been subject to extensive scholarly research although there is an increasing on the relationships between


international migration and development. Besides, the way highly skilled migrants individually and collectively (through networks and associations) can conduct or not transnational initiatives, the nature of these transnational practices, the circumstances that enable or hinder such practices, their perceptions on the country of origin and the country of destination, their daily life experiences, the coping strategies vis-à-vis homelands and host societies and the impacts of highly skilled international migrations on the (re)definition of their identities have not also been thoroughly investigated.16 One of the questions one might ask is whether highly skilled international migration is a process implying the country of origin or the country of destination in a polarized way (oneway migration in terms of settler migration or returning migration) or a process whereby highly skilled migrants attempt to intersect various places especially the country of origin and the country of destination. This question can led to other questions: What are the profiles of these highly skilled migrants (global trotters, primary migrants; migrants with multiple belongings, etc.)? What are the rationales behind the decision to emigrate, and settle in the host country and return to the country of origin or move to another place? How highly skilled migrants attempt to connect the host country and the country of origin and how this is reflected in their experiences, identities, representations and practices? Are highly skilled migrants imbued by local or global citizenship or both of these elements? What are their personal plans (career concerns, etc.), their migrations projects and their relationships with the country of origin? Are highly skilled international migrants oriented toward social and economic activities and / or scientific and technological initiatives? We aim at providing an understanding of highly skilled migrants in their daily lives and how they negotiate with the country of destination, the country of origin, the global landscape and, the ensuing practices, perceptions, experiences and strategies, based on the transnationalist approach. In short, our main objective is to examine highly skilled international migration as a social construction shaped by highly skilled migrants, various identities, belongings, localities, representations and institutions. This implies understanding (i) the causes and determinants of highly skilled migration, (ii) the migration' trajectories and dynamics, (iii) skilled migrants' daily life in host countries and (iv) their relationships with the country of origin; (v) skilled migrants' transnational practices and (vi) skilled migrants' various perceptions. This also requires analyzing the circumstances that enable or make it difficult highly skilled migrants' initiatives toward the country of origin and the type of these initiatives. Methodology

The main activities of this qualitative research are summarized in the following table.



Phases Literature review

Activities Knowledge state of theoretical debate on highly skilled migration including the Swiss, Senegalese and the Indian context as well as the international perspective Relevant literature in order to better design appropriate methodological tools and for the data analysis Using different Swiss and international information and statistical sources

Preliminary interviews Sampling strategy

Preliminary interviews with university researchers and academics, professionals working in international organization and private sectors (less than 10 respondents) Main criterion: professionals holding a PhD or related diplomas i.e engineering; PhD candidates and post-doc fellows; managerial or technical positions under the following groups: students; academics and scientists; engineers and technicians; managers and executives. Interviews with 30 Indians highly skilled. Snowball effect method Interviews which includes the following topics: Sociological identification ; Causes and characteristics of the international migration of highly skilled to Switzerland and migrants life; Causes of international migration and migration paths; Experiences of (highly skilled) migrants; Highly skilled migrants' practices towards their country of origin; Interrelations between the country of origin and the country of destiny, settlement, return, trasnationalism and circulation; and Scientific Diasporas and development of country of origin: which scientific policies and which development policies? Systematic analysis of the data (manual and Atlas ti)

Qualitative interviews

Data analysis

Sixty qualitative interviews (60 of whom 35 male highly skilled migrants and 25 female) have been carried out including PhD and Post doc students, managers, scientists and researchers, engineers, staffs from international organizations, physicians. We will explore the sociological and demographic characteristics of Indian highly skilled migrants in the sampling after these additional qualitative interviews are conducted. Causes of highly skilled international migration, information sources, migration trajectories As identified through this project, the main causes of Indian skilled migration to Switzerland were the search for personal achievement, international prestige, better professional and academic prospects and the existence of social networks. Lack of employment opportunities and migration for study reasons were other factors influencing Indian international skilled mobility. For PhD students, it was about looking for curricula and diplomas with international standards, studying in institutes with excellent reputations, having the privilege to be supervised by Nobel prize winners and distinguished professors, studying in international environments to increase the chances of being recruited to the labour market and being involved in bilateral scientific exchange programs. Bilateral scientific exchange programs are also a framework that allows scientific mobility for Post doctoral fellows, scientists and researchers. Student and scientific migration occurred mostly outside of the institutional framework, as many PhD students and scientists asserted that they directly contacted the


corresponding research or post graduate institute via the internet or through the recommendation of their former professors. A few respondents mentioned that they were aware of existing scientific and research opportunities in Switzerland thanks to social networks (colleagues, friends, superiors). Professional relocation, which reflects the international circulation of knowledge workers, represented one of the main reasons for immigrating to Switzerland for IT specialists (engineers, managers); staff of diplomatic missions and international organizations. Family reunification was another reason for highly skilled emigration to Switzerland. Furthermore, students were likely to seek employment after completing their studies in the country of destination, which reflected the intersection between student and labour migration. This research shows that highly skilled professionals (especially from international organizations and multinational groups) were likely to move to different places in the course of their international careers, whereas Switzerland was "the first experience abroad" for most PhD students in the sampling. These findings suggest that highly skilled professionals are involved in international circulation. Countries such as Switzerland are new destinations for highly skilled Indians, which may reflect changing migration patterns as English speaking countries, notably the U.K. and the U.S.A, are traditionally the main destinations for Indian students and highly skilled workers. Daily life experience, living and working conditions of highly skilled Indians in Switzerland17 This section provides an overview of a working day of highly skilled Indians. It also analyzes the first experience in Switzerland, the strategies in order to balance work and family responsibilities and the integration in the Swiss society. -- An overview of a working day of skilled Indians interviewed The daily professional activities of a scientist, researcher and PhD student are related to teaching and research activities. Scientists and researchers are involved in research, teaching and monitoring PhD and post doctoral fellows. Daily activities of PhD students and Postdoctoral fellows are studies, experiments and teaching (as assistants). The daily activities of a manager (customer relations, sales or IT programs on software development) are ensuring the deliverability of products, research, data collection and planning, budget controlling, coordinating between local staff and outsourcing, dealing with specific regions (Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Eastern Regions). A working day of a professional serving in an international organization is related to policy advice, liaising and networking, research and publication. A senior professional task includes

For an overview of Indian international migration in general, see for example Srivastava R. & Sasikumar S.K. ( 2003), Pandey, A. & ali (2006); Indian highly skilled international migration, see Chakravarty ( 2001), Khadria (1999), Biao (2006). For an overview of highly skilled migration in Switzerland, see for instance Fibbi (2006)



policymaking, monitoring research, reviewing and editing publications. A junior professional is involved in research, capacity building and awareness raising issues. Scientists and academics indicated they usually come to work around 8 or 8h30. Many PhD students interviewed have long working hours and even work during weekends. Most of them came to Switzerland one or two years ago. They live alone, have few friends in Switzerland, allocate extensive time to study and research and hardly participate to socializing or leisure activities due to time constraints. - Living in Switzerland: first experiences; constraints, disillusionment and coping strategies

Many skilled Indians interviewed stated their first experiences in Switzerland were "fascinating," "nice," "fantastic," "good" and "enjoyable." The key elements of such a positive experience were "no major problems in settling," "nice work environment," "familiarity of Swiss colleagues with English," "social networks," "support from colleagues and friends." Alternatively, language problems, lack of familiarity with Swiss realities (food, climate, etc.), and the fact that Switzerland was the first experience abroad were some of the main constraints for a couple of PhD students during their first period in this country. A couple of employees in multinational firms and international organizations found their first experience in the Swiss society burdensome. There was a shift in their lifestyle (housing problems, difficulty hiring domestic workers, etc.). The lack of friendship and social relations, loneliness, linguistic barriers, long working hours and housing problems were main hindrances to their social lives. A respondent voiced constraints related to renewing residence permit and continuous precarious employment: "The first year, my father died. I came in August and he died in November. And then it was a struggle. A struggle to find a job started...Especially with the Swiss authorities. I had difficulties finding a visa because they were mean. Contrôle de l'Habitant: they were most unhelpful...I worked in the conference service with a messenger, replacing this messenger, distribution, whatever job to avoid Contrôle de l'habitant because I was working even with the break. The condition for me to stay here was to prove that I was working." (Finance assistant, male) A female respondent stated that she had the feeling she had to work hard and be outstanding in order to be respected by her employer: "Being a woman and coming from a developing country, you have to have an edge over every equally qualified European. I had to work doubly hard. That was really the challenge. Now I am a [permanent] staff...but this happened only 5 years ago, for 15 years I had short term contracts."


Another obstacle mentioned by a cancer pathologist interviewed was the lack of recognition of diplomas in the field of medicine. Socializing and networking, joining Indian associations, language courses, support from colleagues and friends and participating in social and cultural events such as children's school related activities were some of the coping strategies used by a couple of interviewees to alleviate the constraints in their first periods in Switzerland. Conciliating work and private/family life On the one hand, there are many constraints for balancing work and family responsibilities. They include extensive travels, long working hours and lack of social support from family members and friends. A respondent noted: "Demanding. Profession demands 80 hours a week and my family wants 80 hours a week. Very big juggling act." (Physicist, female) Another interviewee indicated: "The difficulty as an immigrant is that we miss our family here. If we were to live in India, next to our family, then we could have had a lot more support from family members. Here we have to depend on our friends. My colleagues, who are Swiss, with their grandparents around, get a lot of help, which is what we miss here." (Sales manager, male) On the other hand, support from family members and friends and facilities such as daycare centers, family friendly policies at the workplace, good transportation systems, flexible working time, holidays and maternity leave and social arrangements can help conciliate work and family responsibilities: "I think the environment is quite relaxed. For example: working hours. I can go home any time I want to be with my family. There is no strict rule." (PhD student, male) - Integration in the Swiss society

Some respondents were delighted about their life in Switzerland and thought they were very well integrated in the Swiss society. They argued that they had friends and social relationships. They were comfortable with the local language; had good exposure to the local culture and lived in a friendly environment, which helped them easily integrate the Swiss community. Other respondents stated that they were "more or less" integrated. They indicated that they had more contact with international groups than with Swiss people. They socialized more often with colleagues at work who belonged to international groups. They reported language problems and felt no need to speak French or German fluently as English was used in their


work environment. In this category is staff working in international organizations, multinational firms, diplomatic missions and embassies. There were interviewees who believed they were not integrated in Swiss society. They pointed out a range of unfavourable circumstances and factors such as lack of time, lack of awareness of Swiss culture, constraining Swiss procedures and laws, language barriers, divides between the Swiss society and the international groups. Several mentioned that they were confined to their international work environment. A few indicated they did not feel the need to be integrated into Swiss society. Time constraints coupled with family responsibilities limited time for Swiss social and cultural activities. To sum up, a migrant's living experience is determined by a host of social, economic, cultural, spatial and human circumstances and factors. Respondents strategized how to better conciliate work, personal and family life; and how to get used to Swiss realities whilst entrenching "the feeling of India" in their everyday lives. According to interviewees social integration depends on an array of elements such as the social and economic conditions, social relations and getting used to social and cultural realities of the host country. In this regard, there are multiple forms of adaptation or integration in the host society and accordingly, favourable and unfavourable circumstances result in various modes of adjustment towards the host society.

Social, scientific and professional links with the host society, homeland and a global level Sientific and professional linkages at the local and international levels are developed by joining local and international scientific and professional networks. The majority of PhD students and researchers in the survey belonged to Swiss scientific associations according to their area of expertise (chemistry, physics, etc.). By joining local and international scientific networks, scientists and researchers have possibilities to develop contacts at the international level. Similarly, managers working in international corporations have chances to enhance professional contacts at the local and international levels. Lack of institutional support and unemployment can hinder international mobility and make it difficult to have international professional networks. Highly skilled migrants' transnational practices: These practices include among others knowledge transfer through skilled diaspora networks, research and development (R&D) and North ­ South research partnerships-- were identified. Other brain gain mechanisms came out in the course of the survey, namely outsourcing activities and social development related initiatives. Knowledge transfer related activities mentioned included exchanging information through the internet, sending articles or scientific publications to colleagues, temporary return of students and professors as visiting researchers, creating scientific and technological institutes and organizing scientific conferences, training activities and seminars during visits to the country of origin.


A few respondents were involved in research & development (R&D) activities. A couple of PhD students interviewed believed their PhD research could be useful for further R&D applications. Bureaucratic constraints, lack of institutional and financial support and lack of pragmatic vision were some of the impediments to R&D initiatives. Some managers described providing outsourcing opportunities and training programs to their local Indian counterparts. With regard to social development initiatives (improving education and health systems), the survey identified a few initiatives: donations and fund raising to former schools and institutes, support to emergencies (natural calamities) and construction of dispensaries in rural zones. This research also looks at the reasons for success or failure of these transnational initiatives. On the one hand, social networks and institutional support, sufficient funding, relevance of goals and objectives coupled with united strategies and efforts, excellent networking skills, partnership with prestigious and internationally renowned institutions or companies, enthusiasm and commitment of local counterparts, reliability and visibility (scientific publication in distinguished scientific journals, official position in a company or institute) and supportive institutions (addressing bureaucratic and administrative constraints) are some of the elements that can allow successful brain gain projects. On the other hand, lack of supportive institutions (especially from the country of origin), effective scientific diaspora networks, and the absence of sustainable policies on diaspora contributions on science, technology and overall development are considered impediments to brain gain initiatives. Moreover, highly skilled migrants' activities towards the homeland country tend to be disparate, singled-out, informal and mostly oriented to families and local groups, which could hinder their long term sustainability and success. There are other hindrances for effective brain gain including lack of funding, bureaucratic constraints, slow procedures, social and cultural obstacles, language barriers and lack of political support and an un-favourable economic environment. Interviewees stated that they kept family and social ties through the internet, telephone calls, private visits and gifts. Solidarity and brotherhood were, therefore, being reinforced. There were also other types of links with the country of origin such as business links (property, financial investment, technical support to firms, outsourcing, etc.) and private links.

Highly skilled migrants' future plans: The examination of respondents' future plans in terms of professional, private and family life provided useful information related to return to the country of origin, migrants' expectations, concerns and aspirations for the country of origin. The PhD students wanted to have stable professional situations, to succeed in their scientific and academic careers and to become internationally renowned in the country of origin. Managers aged 50 years or younger wanted to have greater professional responsibilities (top management positions) in the coming years, with the possibility of initiating or extending collaboration. This included outsourcing activities with local Indian counterparts. Those managers who were 50 years old would be


retiring in the next 10 years; some of them wanted to enjoy retirement in India or start businesses there. Junior staff from international organizations and firms foresaw bright professional options in their companies. In the coming years, scientists and researchers wanted to have international recognition in their area of expertise and allocate more time to research, teaching and project activities including professional and scientific exchanges with Indian local colleagues in benefit of the country of origin. With regard to future plans in terms of private and family life, the PhD students interviewed stated that they hope to set up homes and establish families. Some respondents between the ages of 30 and 40 (managers, staff in international organisations, researchers) said they wanted "to have more kids" in the next ten years. Respondents with family responsibilities (especially working mothers) asserted that one of their main preoccupations would be their children's schooling, well being and development. Respondents who planned to retire in a few years were being torn between the nostalgia of their homeland and the practical benefits of settling in Switzerland (quality of life, children settling there). Highly skilled migrants between return migration, transnationalism, circulation, cosmopolitanism This research looks at the issue of return to the country of origin. The decision either to settle in the country of residence, to move to another country of destination or to return to the country of origin was dependent on various factors including the situation in the country of origin and country of destination, the type of links with the country of origin, retirement and professional relocation options, the family dimension, the level of integration in the host country and an enabling environment in terms of scientific and professional opportunities. Due to the booming economic environment and the facilities given by Indian government (property, banking, investment, higher wages, accommodation, etc.), skilled Indians are returning in greater numbers to India. The majority of the PhD students and Post doc researchers interviewed were willing to return, although they might not have had concrete plans to go back to the country of origin. A few Post doc fellows had concrete projects oriented to the homeland. Those planning to return to India wanted to create or maintain scientific or professional networks that would allow them to participate in bilateral research programs and projects. These would either be from a distance or short term mobility schemes as visiting researchers. Respondents who stated that they would like to settle in Switzerland mentioned lack of opportunities in India, the quality of life in Switzerland, the prestige of working in internationally renowned institutes and research centres or companies, successful integration in Swiss society and mixed marriage as reasons for their wish to settle in Switzerland. Settling in Switzerland, however, was not for lack of patriotism; a couple of respondents believe they will always be loyal to their homeland despite geographical and physical distance. Most of the scientists, researchers and managers holding Swiss passports wanted to "go and come back" between India and Switzerland. This reflects transnational practices and attitudes


or a sense of "being here and there." For instance, some respondents stated that they would like to settle in Switzerland "where children can grow and quality of life and opportunities are better," but also visit the country of origin on a regular basis. There are also reverse "go and come back" schemes, of settling in India and visiting children, families and acquaintances based in Switzerland. Furthermore, transnationalism underlines other types of mobility: going and coming back for business and family reasons (private visits); bringing children to their homeland to recreate a sense of belonging, being visiting teachers or scholars. For staff from international organizations and second and third generations, we observed an unclear plan with regard to the return to the country of origin. This is probably due to multiple sense of belonging among respondents (having dual or multiple citizenships or having settled in many places) that lead to a dilemma of choosing one place to settle. For this category, the decision to stay or leave dependrf on elements such as their employment situation (professional relocation, position in the field, etc.). Various associations with various purposes This study also tries to identify highly skilled individuals and associations' initiatives for their homeland. A couple of respondents are implicated in scientific and technological activities in benefit of the country of origin (training on computer science, management, engineering, scientific debates, workshops and seminars, knowledge management and diffusion, fundraising, technical support, etc.). Social and cultural activities are being organized by associations to develop solidarity and create a "feeling of India." Social and cultural associations might also provide financial support in case of emergencies and natural disasters (earthquake, tsunami). Most of these associations functioned on a private and voluntary basis. A few associations mentioned in the survey were granted financial support (mainly from the canton of Vaud, Indian embassy and permanent mission) and other facilities (rooms and halls for meetings and festivals contributed by EPFL). The main constraints of these associations were lack of financial and institutional support, lack of new members and lack of visibility. Furthermore, lack of time due to family and / or professional responsibilities, lack of interest in programs and activities of these associations and lack of information about Indian associations based in Switzerland were some of the reasons for not joining these associations.

Highly skilled migrants and their perceptions towards the country of origin and the country of residence This research scrutinizes highly skilled migrants' perceptions of the country of origin, social, economic and political situations, current scientific and technological research and migration policy. With regard to the social situation, India's unprecedented economic growth and efforts at social development have been achieved by the government. However, millions of


people face poor living conditions, especially in rural zones. Despite fast economic growth, this "big country appears as a third world country" and has "infrastructure lagging behind." Persisting poverty, inequalities, illiteracy and social protection are also problems leading to frequent social and political turmoil. With regard to the economic situation, the rapidly growing economy has led to increasing opportunities at the local and international levels (outsourcing in software development, R& D, delocalization, etc.) and a better macro-economic balance (inflation control). However, massive poverty, corruption and bad governance, social and economic gaps and neglect of key economic sectors such as agriculture are impediments to the social and economic development of India. With regard to the political situation, independent press, secularity, the growing presence of talented people in the ruling system and moderate government have helped strengthen democracy. Improvement in becoming a more rules-based society has contributed to attracting companies and businesses. However, India, similar to many democratic countries, is facing a slow-down of political, judiciary and economic reforms, bureaucratic constraints, corruption, unequal distribution of wealth and persisting poverty and social inequalities. With regard to scientific and technological research, India attracts outsourcing opportunities and foreign direct investment thanks to the booming economic environment. Indian companies (pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, IT) are exported all over the world. More and more Indians abroad are returning to their country of origin to start scientific, technological and business activities or to mentor local scientists and researchers. Government provides support to scientific and technological research by increasing wages and giving facilities to skilled Indian abroad. However, the scientific and technological research is hindered by obstacles including a lack of balance between IT and other sectors, lack of support for research and development and lack of visibility of scientists and researchers. With regard to Indian migration policy, the government has elaborated on some measures to retain and attract highly skilled people (creation of a special minister in charge of migration, incentives and opportunities for investment for nationals abroad, permanent visa for Indians abroad and a proposal for dual citizenship for PIOs). However, respondents voiced the need to address constraints related to dual citizenship, neglect of less skilled and unskilled groups, lack of effective diaspora policies in Switzerland and the negative effects of brain drain in India. This study also examines Indian highly skilled migrants' perceptions of Swiss scientific policy, development cooperation and immigration policies and the role of the scientific diaspora on social, economic, scientific and technological development of the country of origin. According to the respondents, Swiss scientific policy is successful due to a range of factors such as international prestige of Swiss institutes of science and technology, high value given to science, focus on research and development, good funding policy for research, bilateral and multilateral exchange programs, meritocracy and great efforts in promoting science and technology. However, in order to compete with industrially advanced countries,


Switzerland should be opened up and address rigidity and restrictive policies toward students, researchers and scientists from developing countries. Promising bilateral programs and projects (ISCB) are being carried out and should be strengthened. Swiss agencies and non profit organizations are involved in various humanitarian and development projects. Swiss companies have links in India and are outsourcing to India. However, there is a need to match these bilateral programs with the specific national needs and to avoid asymmetric relations. On the one hand, Swiss immigration policy is considered restrictive and discriminatory. Citizens from developing countries often face difficulties getting work and residence permits and is subject to bureaucratic constraints which can reinforce stereotypes and hinder their integration in Switzerland. On the other hand, Swiss immigration policy is considered selective (focus on highly qualified people), well managed, humanitarian, quite inclusive and favourable (due to naturalization). A couple of respondents stated that greater openness would lead to uncontrolled migrant inflows in a small country such as Switzerland. In total, Indian highly skilled international mobility is a complex set of academic, social, economic and personal factors and determinants (Chang, 1992; Khadria, 2004: 10). Highly skilled migrations are seen as a strategy for social mobility. Migrations are also due to business purpose, family reunification, search for employment opportunities, professional experience, higher education studies. Skilled migration is due to various causes, situations, circumstances and involves various players with different profile, family background and links with the country of origin and the country of destination and various perceptions towards the homelands and the host society. Conclusion Our objective was to provide a better understanding of issues related to the international highly skilled mobility with special reference to Indian highly skilled living in Switzerland. Highly skilled international migration takes various forms, involves various players and spaces, tends to be increasingly transient rather than a unidirectional permanent immigration and raises an ongoing debate which is more concerned with its effects on sending and receiving countries and less with finding out appropriate theories and methods to better understand this phenomenon. In the context of globalization, hybridizations, localizations, highly skilled international migration appears as a complex set of flows, networks, connections and social spaces, underlying multifaceted connections, flows and networks of people, knowledge, information, symbols and resources, with ensuing effects on highly skilled migrants' various identities, belongings, rationales, plans and strategies. The transient and transnational character of highly skilled international migration may suggest weakened nation-states, deteritorialized identities and people, hybridizations or glocalization although the strategic role of state-nation in controlling borders, as part of its sovereignty remains salient though contested somehow. The social has multiple meanings in the context of international migration, globalization, localities and nation-states. The multifaceted elements underlying skilled labour mobility (cultural, symbolic, economic, social, etc) show that highly skilled migrants and highly skilled international migration are not bound to one single and fixed national container. Highly


skilled international migrants are likely to forge or maintain translocal, global to local, global to global relations rather than national to national relations especially those who are not fixed in a single territory and belongings. Highly skilled migrants may also show a greater allegiance to the homeland country. This suggests going beyond unidirectional analysis (what nation-state can gain or loss or skilled migration as resulting in permanent settler migration in the destination countries), as it can be seen in brain gain and brain studies that are largely underpinned, in our viewpoint, by methodological nationalism or the tyranny of nation-states. In the context of migration and globalization, State that has the delicate task to balance competing priorities that is openness whilst keeping down domestic interests is no longer the sole actor regulating international migration. Our point is not to argue that in understanding contemporary skilled migration phenomenon, state nation paradigm is no longer operational and salient and should be thrown away. Rather, we argue that conceptualizing international migration in general and highly skilled migration in particular only within the container of the nation state is narrow, insufficient and can led to essentialist vision of the social. Conceptualizing highly skilled international migration in terms of flows, connections and networks, fixities, belongings, show the various meanings of highly skilled migrants' identities, practices and daily lives which are not only conditioned or shaped by nation-state. Rather than narrowly focusing on the economic dimension as seen in the neoclassical approach and the monolithically conception of culture of the assimilationnist approach, the new grammar of international migration such as transnationalism can help outline the various forms of migration, the multifaceted reasons behind the decision to emigrate and the complexities of migrants' belongings and experiences. As seen in the case of Indians highly skilled residing in Switzerland, various localities, fields of belonging and hybridization processes as well as motives to emigrate led to differentiated situations, patterns and forms of highly skilled international migration rather than a mere brain drain or brain gain: temporary migration, permanent settlement, circulation, transnationalism, diaspora, return migration, etc; various links and representations vis-à-vis homeland and host society and various expectations, concerns and plans. Thus, in trying to find out "a new framework (...) for the analysis of contemporary skilled international migration" (Findlay & Gould 1989: 5) so as to address those one-way statecentered views, transnational approach can be a constructive mode of understanding "global and transnational phenomena without losing sight of the continuing significance of national and local factors" (Castles 2007: 353- 358), if not reified and essentialized. Some bibliographical references ACKERS, Louis (2005a) `Moving people and knowledge: Scientific mobility in the European Union', International Migration, 43 (5), 99-131. APPADURAÏ, Arjun (1996) Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. APPLEYARD, Reginald Thomas (1991) International Migration. Challenge of the Nineties, Geneva: IOM. AURIOL, Laudelin and SEXTON, Jerry (2002) "Human Resources in Science and Technology: Measurement Issues and International Mobility" in OECD (2002) International Mobility of the Highly Skilled Pp. 14-38, OECD Proceedings, Paris France


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