Traditional migration literature tends to view the motivation for moving and the choice of destination country in terms of push and pull factors.
Basic economic migration models emphasise the role of wage differentials as reasons for migrating and for choosing a particular destination. Research also points to financial security and working conditions. While some commentators take wider factors into account, migration literature generally assumes some sort of cost-benefit analysis on the part of the potential mover. It has been suggested that "migration starts with imaging the new destination, continues with balancing benefits and costs, and ends with an actual move."
While push and pull factors may influence the migration of the highly-skilled, mobility and choice of location amongst early career scientists is also linked to certain mobility triggers, which are neglected in most literature and will therefore be considered here. Mobility triggers include impetuses, events, persons or contexts that make mobility a workable possibility and a reality for a particular scientist. Mobility triggers act in a way which is not necessarily planned or controllable by the scientists and which adds considerably to a chance element in scientific mobility. This is not to say that it is beyond the power of a state to influence the mobility of scientists; rather, as will be argued in the conclusion, states may need to look beyond issues such as working conditions, pay and legislation in seeking to increase the inflow of such highly-skilled people. The triggers discussed here are networks, undergraduate exchange programmes, fellowship opportunities as well as family and partners.
While it has been claimed that "it can be safely said that networks rank among the most important explanatory factors of migration,"
Scientific networks often emerge as the result of international collaboration. Project partners go to partner institutions for short visits or longer research stays. Established professors send younger colleagues to learn new techniques or ways of working; in turn, more senior scientists are invited to lend their expertise and share their knowledge. Thus scientific networks are formed and expanded every step of the way. These collaborations and international settings often lead to scientists being "socialised to the idea of migration"
Undergraduate exchange programmes
Research has found that a high proportion of mobile scientists have some experience of mobility at the undergraduate level, and that students who had spent some time abroad display a higher propensity to move in the future
Opportunities such as individual fellowship schemes provide a relatively risk-free way to make mobility happen, especially in cases where a position at home can be kept. The type of fellowship and the ease with which it can be administered are important factors in determining whether or not they trigger mobility. Germany boasts a host of funding organisations that award individual fellowships at all levels. The Table shows that the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD), the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation are the four most important providers of individual funding.
While fellowships are undoubtedly important in bringing foreign researchers to Germany, they become even more influential if used as the basis for establishing networks (see beginning of this section). Some schemes such as the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or the European Marie Curie Fellowship Schemes recognise this and have established strong associations of former and current fellows.
Foreign Scientists in Germany by Level of Seniority and Funding Body
|Graduates||Post Docs||Academic Staff|
|Funding body||Number||Funding body||Number||Funding body||Number|
In addition to professional networks, undergraduate studies and fellowship schemes, family and partnering issues play a very significant role in inducing mobility or making it a viable option. Literature on the migration of the highly-skilled has only recently turned its attention to the non-economic issues which shape mobility decisions and experiences. Even where family relationships are acknowledged as factors to be taken into account, they have mostly been talked about in terms of limiting mobility or tying scientists to a particular place. However, family can make significant contributions to the context that prompts a scientist to move. Families provide emotional support and encouragement in addition to needed assistance in day-to-day life. Krystina
Another dimension is added when a scientist's partner is also employed in the science field (dual science career couples). Researchers have analysed issues arising from this arrangement, including its impact on both family life and career progression. Either partner in a dual science career couple can also act as a significant mobility trigger, as the couple tries to minimise the time spent apart. In the first instance one partner's move can act as a strong incentive for the other partner to move in order to be in the same place. However, one partner's move can also imbue the other partner with a sense of confidence in being able to live and work in a foreign country. Especially at the early stage of a scientific career, a partner already working abroad or going at the same time provides a safety net as the scientist does not have to go it alone. Even where dual science career couples do not secure positions in the same city, they can take advantage of the fact that they have someone within a manageable distance who is facing similar issues and on whose support they can count. Additionally, partners can facilitate access to important contacts and information about opportunities, application procedures and the way of life in the host country. Only in the rarest of cases do both partners move together to positions they have already secured. Often one partner will secure a position and the other will move at the same time and then attempt to find something once in the host country. This was the case with Justyna
Jessica Guth is a research fellow and PhD candidate at the Centre for the Study of Law and Policy in Europe at the University of Leeds. In addition, she was the 2006 London School of Economics T.H. Marshall fellow and spent her six-month fellowship at the Migration Research Group (MRG), Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).