Doctoral training for innovation: Brazilian policy in a global context

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This paper aims to contributing to the discussion about the relationship between Brazil‟s policies to train PhDs and the latter‟s propensity to international mobility. The issue is analyzed in the light of the brain drain studies, including modern
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  Doctoral training for innovation: Brazilian policy in a global context Milena Yumi Ramos* The State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), Alto da Lapa  –   05468-901  –   São Paulo/SP, Brazil. E-mail: Lea Velho University of Campinas (Unicamp), Cidade Universitária Zeferino Vaz  –   Distrito de Barão de Geraldo  –   13.083-970  –   Campinas/SP, Brazil. E-mail * Corresponding author Abstract:  This paper aims to contributing to the discussion about the relationship b etween Brazil‟s policies to train PhDs and the latter‟s propensity to international mobility. The issue is analyzed in the light of the brain drain studies, including modern conceptions of talent circulation and intellectual diaspora. It is argued that the sharp decrease in the number of scholarships for doctoral studies abroad has intensified even more, and to alarming levels, reducing the propensity of Brazilian researchers to migrate. Such policy renders the migration of highly skilled personnel as necessarily equivalent to brain drain, while the current understanding of knowledge production points to the importance of international mobility and brain circulation to make connections to global research networks and cope with global competition in terms of innovation. Keywords:  doctoral studies; human resources development policy; brain circulation; international mobility; Brazil. Introduction This paper aims to contributing to the discussion about the relationship between a country‟s policies to train PhDs   and the latter‟s  propensity to international mobility. It is argued that the recent focus of Brazilian policy on the training of PhDs almost exclusively in domestic institutions is not supported by evidence. Moreover, such policy renders the migration of highly skilled personnel as necessarily equivalent to brain drain, while the current understanding of knowledge production points to the importance of international mobility and brain circulation to cope with global competition in terms of innovation. The article contains four further sections besides this introduction and final remarks. The following describes the context in which the mobility of highly skilled human resources  becomes a key issue to research and policy making. Section 2 sketches a panorama of the  progress in the understanding of that mobility, starting with the studies that coined the term brain drain and ending with those considering the phenomenon as international  talent circulation. Sections 3 and 4 present data for developed countries and for Brazil concerning the mobility of scientific personnel, in order to illustrate how those countries deal with the problem currently. Finally, the precedent discussion is summarized and implications are derived for Brazil. 2 Demand and supply of highly skilled personnel: why is it an issue? In the last two decades, political and academic debate on migration of highly skilled workers - talented and creative persons in science, technology, business, arts and culture, and other professional activities (Solimano, 2006a) - has deepened. Generally speaking, developed and developing countries are in opposite sides of such debate. In developed countries, the entry rate of new skilled individuals has been lower than the aging rate of existing population for a long period now, resulting in the elevation of the average age of such strategic human resources. In the European Union, for instance, the  portion of human resources in science and technology aged 45-64 is 35%, higher than 31% aged 25-34. Even worse: while for those aged 25-34 the average annual growth was 2,77% from 2001 to 2007, for the cohort aged 45-64 annual growth rate was 4,02% (Eurostat, 2009). The persistence of this trend is viewed as a threat to the domestic capacity of providing talent and skills needed to sustain the economic growth of developed countries in the long run (Mahroum, 2000). In Europe, for example, the number of jobs requiring high and medium qualifications are expected to increase around 31.5 % and 50%, respectively, in 2020 as compared to 1996, and those requiring low qualifications are expected to fall from a third in 1996 to around 18.5 % in 2020 (Cedefop, 2008). While there is the  possibility of oversupply in some areas, there is considerable evidence of increasing needs for, and even shortages of, people with adequate levels of qualification in many areas. Such a situation has direct implications to education and training policies as well as to talent attraction from abroad and international/regional mobility strategies. The problem gets more serious because a decreasing interest of the young in science and engineering careers has already been detected (NAS, 1995) due to diverse factors. On the one hand, students perceive science as uninteresting and difficult (Eurab, 2002); on the other, there is growing criticism of the quality and suitability of higher education and advanced studies as well as of little relevance of knowledge produced by researchers (Balbachevsky, 2001). In addition, the attractiveness of careers depends on the degree of stability and continuity they can provide to the professional (NAS, 1995). Frequently the young perceive science careers as too specialized to permit broader future opportunities. They also consider science careers development too demanding and compensated neither by job security nor  by higher wages. In advanced phases of science careers there are also bottlenecks. Young scientists are often recruited on temporary short-term contracts for specific projects (EC, 2008). This restricts the chances of young talent making the transition and become independent researchers. Also, remuneration consists of scholarships and grants with limited access to social security benefits. As a result, new graduates in science and technology are increasingly being attracted to other careers, such as those related to the financial system,   business management and real estate sector, which offer better pay and working conditions, and perhaps higher professional and social status than science and technology careers (NAS, 1995). This situation is already reflected in the composition of higher education students by nationality in developed countries, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels: the ratio of foreign students to total students has increased significantly in the last years. Many students from rapidly developing countries, mainly Chinese, Koreans and Indians  –   who admittedly are more motivated for science and technology careers  –   fill up vacancies in science and engineering courses offered by universities in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and France. In several developed countries, the flow of students from upper secondary education to higher education has decreased in recent years, while in developing countries students have found strong incentives for advanced education. In China, the number of new science and engineering degrees awarded doubled between 1995 and 2005, and new doctoral degrees awarded grew 24% annually between 2000 and 2005 (OECD, 2008). In India, in the early 1990s, there were 5.3 million students enrolled in higher education, number that expanded to 7.7 million by the end of the decade. As regards new doctoral degrees awarded in the country, the number rose from 8,383 in 1990-91 to 10,951 in 1998-99 (Khadria, 2004). In Brazil, the number of first university degrees awarded increased from 300,761 in 1998 to 800,318 in 2008 (Inep, 2009); master  ‟s  degrees awarded grew from 12,351 in 1998 to 33,360 in 2008, and PhD degrees from 3,915 to 10,711 in the same period (Capes, 2009). Successful public policies for training highly skilled individuals in developing countries have not been complemented by measures to promote their absorption by the local labour market in qualified jobs. The business sector has not, so far, felt the need to employ highly skilled personnel. In Brazil, for example, less than three thousand graduates were employed in research and development in the business sector in 2000, the year when Brazil granted over 18 thousand master‟ s degrees and five thousand doctoral degrees. In 2005, only 1,189 PhDs held positions in R&D facilities in business enterprises (IBGE, 2007). The demand for skilled workers in developed countries combined with the increasing supply of university graduates in developing countries have contributed to the implementation of policies to attract and retain talent, particularly PhD students, from developing to developed countries. While in developed countries the exploration of these flows has been subject of research and active policy by national governments for several years, in developing countries there is little evidence on the extent, motivations and effects of international mobility of highly skilled personnel. Still, they tend to apply measures to hamper the immigration of their talents. Financial penalties and avoidance of prolonged contact of local young researchers with peers in developed countries are two examples. Some developing countries do so despite the lack of systematic reliable information on the extent and impact that migration and measures to prevent it can have in the medium and long run. After all, what portion of highly skilled nationals does migrate? Which factors condition that decision? Would it, in fact, be immigration or circulation? What impact do the policies to prevent  immigration have on the dynamics of knowledge production and innovation capacity in developing countries? The lack of empirical and analytical evidence that regularly inform the policy making and evaluation in those countries may prevent them from benefiting fully from the potential in terms of scientific cooperation, technology transfer, high-level training, acquisition of codified and tacit knowledge and internationalization of future researchers. Moreover, there are several ways to view the mobility of human resources and each one informs different policies and programs, as discussed in the next section. 3 From brain drain to international talent circulation By mid 1960 ‟s , science and technology activities responded to the center-periphery relation typical of capitalist imperialism, including the patterns of international migration, especially among skilled population: a non-negligible contingent of university degree holders used to migrate from the Southern Hemisphere to the North, from underdeveloped areas to developed regions (Guimarães, 2002, Meyer et al., 2001). Such unidirectional bipolar movement was perceived as a loss or permanent drain of brains, negatively impacting the scientific, technological and socio-economic development of sending countries. These arguments gained international importance, leading to the intensification of studies on the subject and the creation of systems for monitoring the mobility of skilled workers in the world. Governments of both sending and receiving countries then began to focus on issues such as (Meyer, 2003): The dimension and direction of skilled workers flows; The losses due to migration and ways to avoid or at least minimize them; Strategies to attract and retain the highly skilled; The intensity of highly skilled migration by scientific disciplines and qualified occupations. In the 1980 ‟ s, research results suggested that there could be also positive effects from  brain drain. According to the proponents of this view, international migration of skilled  people would have positive impacts on global development stemming from the transfer of knowledge, intellectual and cultural capital embodied in students, scientists and artists (Solimano, 2006a). The brain gain approach thus conceived in the early 1990 ‟ s pointed out the benefits that migration combined with subsequent repatriation of skilled individuals might have to sending countries, such as: strengthening the local education systems; fostering the integration of national talents into international markets and networks of intellectual, cultural and economic production; using their contacts and channels to access resources available abroad (technical and tacit knowledge, skills, entrepreneurial behavior development, social and professional networks, investments). In countries like India and China, these improvements can already be noticed: as Solimano (2006b) highlighted, many Indians and Chinese who graduated in the U.S. have  become successful entrepreneurs in this country (e.g. in Silicon Valley). After a while,  they managed to make connections between Asian and American markets, besides  promoting contact and mutual access to technology and capital between both regions. In the 1990 ‟ s and early 2000, those entrepreneurs also had opportunity to start new business units in their home countries using technology and market knowledge they had acquired abroad. These are two successful stories of a process that is becoming a global trend: the international mobility of skilled human resources is irrepressible and is linked to new opportunities and risks posed by globalization. Not surprisingly, developed countries and some emerging countries, especially China and India, have included international training of their promising talents and domestic attractiveness for foreign top-level students and researchers in their strategic priorities in this new century. The international mobility that those strategies foster has distinct effects in different countries, depending on many factors. For this very reason, the tension between the national efforts of education and training for innovation and the internationalization imperative poses an important challenge to decision makers (Nerad, 2006). At the center of this debate, in knowledge-based economies, are the science talents. They are key players on innovation and growth processes, participating either as inventive entrepreneurs or incremental innovators (Baumol, 2004). On one side, those exposed to educational practices that encourage heterodox thinking and exercise of srcinality and imagination are more inclined to develop revolutionary ideas, thus tending to generate  breakthroughs; on the other side, those trained for mastery of the currently available scientific and technical methods and materials can contribute enormously to cumulative incremental improvement carried out by R&D labs in large corporations. Hence, education and training are in the core of science talents development. In search of the best qualification available, they tend to move toward centers of greater intensity of knowledge  –   those which set the standards and paradigms. Currently, however, the attraction centers do not correspond exactly to the center-periphery relations of the post-war period, but they are numerous and are scattered throughout the countries of the North and South. Even migration flows do not simply depart from a sending country toward a receiving country anymore; instead, there are multiple possibilities of destinations abroad and the circulation path follows the hierarchy of international scientific and technological relations (Balán, 2008; Davenport, 2004; Meyer et al., 2001). In view of this new scenario, several countries have revised their policies on human resources training and have adopted measures to stimulate controlled international mobility of science and technology talents, including the formation and exploitation of intellectual diaspora networks. These consist of very diverse networks of expatriates, all having similar objectives: to foster coordinated action among members aiming at defending collective interests, helping them cope with common challenges, and facilitating their reintegration into the country of srcin, without necessarily returning  back (Meyer and Brown, 1999). Highly skilled expatriates then begun to be perceived not as a permanent loss, but as a  potential asset for the country, either returning back or circulating abroad if this include their home country. It is expected that the transfer of tangibles and intangibles they hold may contribute to the development of their nation.
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