Below, you will find my research in the following areas. (To download, click on the paper name. This takes you to SSRN, from where you can click on “One click download” to get a free copy of the paper).
- Global engineering education
- Immigration and the reverse brain drain
- Workforce development
- Globalization of research and development/innovation/outsourcing
I have had the honor of working with the following world-renowned (and soon to be world-renowned) academics:
- Richard Freeman, Ascherman Professor of Economics, Harvard University/National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)/London School of Economics
- Gary Gereffi, Professor, Duke University, Department of Sociology/Director, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness
- Guillermina Jasso, Silver Professor and Professor of Sociology, New York University/Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Germany
- Ben Rissing, Sloan School of Management, MIT
- AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean and Professor University of California, Berkeley, School of Information
- John Trumpbour, Research Director Harvard University – Labor and Worklife Program
- Global engineering education
- Immigration & the reverse brain drain
- Workforce development
- Globalization of R&D
Women are one particularly understudied group of entrepreneurs. We know very little about female entrepreneurs, and our ignorance of this important demographic is a serious blind spot in any effort to increase the total number of entrepreneurs participating in our economy. What little we do know suggests that women are not nearly as active in the entrepreneurial space as they could be.
This study attempts to address part of this knowledge gap. Our findings show that successful women and men entrepreneurs are similar in almost every respect. They had equivalent levels of education early interest in starting their own business, a strong desire to build wealth or capitalize on a business idea, access to funding, and they largely agreed on the top issues and challenges facing any entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs are among the most celebrated people in our culture. However, very little is known today about the backgrounds, life histories, motivations and beliefs of these entrepreneurs. So myths and stereotypes prevail. The commonly held belief is that entrepreneurs are young, lightly-educated, childless unmarried workaholics. They are perceived to come from rich families and graduate from elite colleges.
But is this true? We found that most founders came from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds, are well-educated and married with children. The strongest motivation for starting a company was to “build wealth”. Other popular motivators included capitalizing on a business idea; the appeal of a startup culture; a desire to own a company; and a lack of interest in working for someone else.
In this paper, we explore company founders’ opinions and observations about their own trajectory and what influenced the success or failure of their businesses. The findings clearly contradict some strongly held beliefs about starting a business and entrepreneurship. The four most important factors for entrepreneurial success, according to our respondents, are prior work experience, learning from successes and failures, management teams, and luck.
Networks and financing also were important factors. Surprisingly few took venture capital or angelfinancing in their first ventures. Another surprise was the lack of reliance on alumni networks; it could be that being to obtain access to the alumni network, has been overstated as a benefit for startups. However, lessons learned in college are greatly valued, particularly for alumni of Ivy League schools.
The popular image of American tech entrepreneurs is that they come from elite universities: Some graduate and start companies in their garages; others drop out of college to start their business careers. The dot-com boom reinforced the image of technology CEOs being young and brash. But, even though Bill Gates and Steve Jobs founded two of the world’s most successful companies, they are not representative of technology and engineering company founders. Indeed, a larger proportion of tech founders are middle-aged, well-educated in business or technical disciplines, with degrees from a wide assortment of schools. Twice as many U.S.-born tech entrepreneurs start ventures in their fifties as do those in their early twenties, as this paper will show.
We observed that, like immigrant tech founders, U.S.-born engineering and technology company founders tend to be well-educated. There are, however, significant differences in the types of degrees these entrepreneurs obtain and the time they take to start a company after they graduate. They also tend to be more mobile and are much older than is commonly believed.
This research project was completed with the assistance of Aneesh Chopra, who presently serves as Chief Technology Officer of the United States.
The report summarizes results of an analysis of the WIPO database for PCT applications focusing on its geographic characteristics. It offers an opportunity to understand where this measure indicates that innovation is happening in the United States, which organizations are driving change, and the technical areas that are the focus of U.S. filing.
This paper, from the Journal of Engineering Education, challenges the commonly cited statistics for engineering graduates in the United States, China, and India. Our research shows that the gap between the number of engineers and related technology specialists produced in the United States versus those in India and China is smaller than previously reported, and the United States remains a leading source of high-quality global engineering talent. Furthermore, engineering graduates in China and India face the prospect of substantial unemployment, despite high corporate demand for their services; this raises questions about the quality of recent graduates. The United States, however, also confronts problems in its continued ability to attract and retain top engineering talent from abroad because of visa uncertainties and growing economic opportunities in their countries of origin. We argue that the key issue in engineering education should be the quality of graduates, not just the quantity, since quality factors have the biggest impact on innovation and entrepreneurship.
This paper from Issues in Science and Technology, which is the journal of the National Academy of Sciences, explains that despite the concern in the United States about the growing technological capacity of India and China, the nation actually has little reliable information about the future engineering workforce in these countries. U.S. political leaders prescribe remedies such as increasing U.S. engineering graduation rates to match the self-proclaimed rates of emerging competitors. Many leaders attribute the increasing momentum in outsourcing by U.S. companies to shortages of skilled workers and to weaknesses in the nation’s education systems, without fully understanding why companies outsource.
We believe that the data we have obtained, through not exhaustive represent the best information available and can help U.S. policymakers, business leaders, and educators chart future actions.
Varying, inconsistent reporting of problematic, engineering graduation data has been used to fuel fears that America is losing its technolical edge. Typical articles have stated that in 2004 the United States graduated roughly 70,000 undergraduate engineers, while China graduated 600,000 and India 350,000. Our study has determined that these are inappropriate comparisons.
These massive numbers of Indian and Chinese engineering graduates include not only four-year degrees, but also three-year training programs and diploma holders. These numbers have been compared against the annual production of accredited four-year engineering degrees in the United States. A comparison of like-to-like data suggests that the U.S. produces a highly significant number of engineers, computer scientists and information technology specialists, and remains competitive in global markets.
This purpose of this research was to assess the contribution of skilled immigrants in the creation of engineering and technology businesses and intellectual property in the United States. We found there was at least one immigrant key founder in 25.3% of all engineering and technology companies established in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005 inclusive. We estimate that together, this pool of immigrant-founded companies was responsible for generating more than $52 billion in 2005 sales and creating just under 450,000 jobs as of 2005. This research shows that immigrants have become a significant driving force in the creation of new businesses and intellectual property in the U.S. and that their contributions have increased over the past decade.
Immigrants who are most likely to start engineering and technology businesses – from India, the UK, China, Taiwan, Japan, and Germany – are better educated than their native-born counterparts. We found 96 percent of all immigrant entrepreneurs involved in engineering and technology have completed a bachelor’s degree, and 74 percent hold master’s or PhD degrees. The great majority (75 percent) of their highest degrees are in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related fields.
Immigrant founders were educated in a diverse set of universities in their home countries and across the United States.Those who received their undergraduate degrees in India or China graduated from a diverse assortment of institutions. Even the famed Indian Institutes of Technology educated only 15 percent of Indian company founders. More than half of the foreign-born founders of U.S. technology and engineering businesses initially came to the United States to study. Very few came with the sole purpose of starting a company.
Earlier research revealed a dramatic increase in the contributions of foreign nationals to U.S. intellectual property over an eight-year period. In this paper, we offer a more refined measure of this change and seek to explain this increase with an analysis of the immigrant-visa backlog for skilled workers. The key finding is that there are over one million skilled workers and their families who are in the U.S. awaiting permanent resident visas. This number is significantly larger than the number that can be admitted to the United States. This imbalance creates the potential for a sizeable reverse brain-drain from the United States to the skilled workers’ home countries.
Since even before the 2008 financial and economic crisis, some observers have noted that a substantial number of highly skilled immigrants have started returning to their home countries, including persons from low-income countries like India and China who have historically tended to stay permanently in the United States.
Who are these returnees? What motivated their decision to leave the United States? How have they fared since returning?This paper attempts to answer these questions through a survey of 1,203 Indian and Chinese immigrants who had worked or received their education in the United States and returned to their home country.
We find that, though restrictive immigration policies caused some returnees to depart the United States, the most significant factors in the decision to return home were career opportunities, family ties, and quality of life.
As the economies of the developing world have grown rapidly and Western economies have grown less quickly, anecdotal evidence has begun to suggest that fewer foreign national students wish to stay in the U.S. after graduation. Reports in the popular press, and elsewhere have suggested that many of these students now believe that greater opportunities exist elsewhere in the world. To date, there has been very little empirical research, aside from the NSF surveys, into the post-graduate intentions of foreign nationals, and the key factors driving their decisions to seek to stay in the U.S. or to move abroad. This paper attempts to fill some of this void.
This paper is based on an Facebook survey of 1,224 foreign nationals who are currently studying in institutions of higher learning in the United States or who had graduated by the end of the 2008 academic school year. We found that foreign national students in our sample are planning to leave the U.S. after graduation in numbers that appear to be higher than the historical norm as measured in STEM disciplines. A significant percentage of these students also say they intend to open businesses in the future. This expressed intention is prevalent among Indian and Chinese nationals currently studying in the U.S. This would appear to be a marked contrast to the recent past, when Chinese and Indian degree holders were very likely to stay in the U.S. and continue working or in a research capacity (even more so in the PhD ranks).
This paper from Issues in Science and Technology, which is the journal of the National Academy of Sciences, summarizes our research into immigration and entrepreneurship and argues that the United States – long the beneficiary of talented immigrants – needs to act quickly to keep skilled workers from leaving to pursue expanding opportunities in their home countries.
The danger is that the United States is taking this immigrant contribution for granted at a time when changes in the global economy are providing alternative career opportunities for the most talented people. In the past, the United States was clearly the best place for the most talented scientists and engineers to work, and there was no need to do anything special to attract them. Those days are gone, and the United States must begin paying more attention to what is necessary to attract foreign talent and taking steps to eliminate barriers to immigration.
An Outflow of Talent: Nativism and the US Reverse Brain Drain
This paper from Harvard International Review, discusses the l cultural and economic tensions that have always existed around the sensitive topics of immigration and immigration policy are again coming to the surface in the United States.
It argues that xenophobic tide could not have come at a more inopportune time. Even before the nativist sentiment emerged, growing numbers of talented immigrants had been abandoning lives in the United States to return to their homelands. They returned due to growing perceptions that brighter economic futures and greater chances for career and professional advancement lay abroad. With America no longer having the huge economic advantage it once had, other factors are coming more into play, such as the inconvenience of current restrictive visa policies and the anxiety associated with living far from friends and family in an unfamiliar culture. The United States is experiencing a brain drain for the first time in its history, yet its leaders do not appear to be aware of this. The ramifications of this brain drain are critical and will be long-lasting.
This paper from the Applied Research in Economic Development Journal, explores the educational attainment and career trajectories of immigrant entrepreneurs. Our research confirms that advanced education in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is correlated with high rates of entrepreneurship and innovation among both immigrant and U.S.-born founder populations. To maintain and grow the U.S. entrepreneurial landscape, future policy endeavors may target means of attracting and retaining innovative, highly skilled foreign minds.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In the ’90s, India’s Information Technology (IT) industry learned to compensate for the country’s weak infrastructure and developed competencies that helped it become a top global player. Now several industries, including IT, have learned to overcome another major deficiency: India’s education system. They have adapted and perfected western practices in workforce training and development, and now take workers with poor education and weak technical skills and turn them into highly productive technical specialists and managers able to compete on the world stage.
This paper is based on detailed interviews with the CEOs, HR executives, R&D managers, and employees of 24 leading companies in rapidly growing sectors in India. We present an overview of their best practices in recruiting, training, managerial development, and employee retention. We conclude that out of necessity – because of educational weaknesses; skills shortages; competition for top talent; turnover; and rising salaries – leading businesses in India have developed highly advanced, innovative practices and that these are allowing industries in India to become globally competitive and grow rapidly.
The lesson that the U.S. and other countries facing increased global competition can learn is that workforce training and development may be essential to maintaining a competitive edge.
This paper from Harvard International Review, discusses how, despite its low rates of postgraduate science and engineering graduation, India is rapidly becoming a global hub for R&D, with a momentum and scale similar to those it accomplished in IT services.
Multinational pharmaceutical corporations are searching for means to broaden their capacity for drug development while decreasing costs. Pharmaceutical firms in India and China are increasingly forging partnerships with these corporations to gain revenue and to develop their own expertise. These relationships largely appear to be symbiotic. As a result of the movement of research to their countries, Indian and Chinese scientists are rapidly developing the ability to innovate and create their own intellectual property. Several firms in India and China are performing advanced R&D and are moving into the highest-value segments of the pharmaceutical global value chain.
Engineering jobs are being offshored to countries like India and China, and the trend seems to be gaining momentum. It is not clear whether this will erode U.S competitiveness or provide long term benefit. What is clear is that there is insufficient independent research on this topic. Here, we delve into some of the offshoring experiences of leading American corporations. This report summarizes data collected from 78 division representatives at 58 U.S. based companies involved in engineering offshoring. We discuss their experiences in hiring engineers, the perception of the productivity and quality differences between U.S. engineers and those in China and India, and future trends in offshoring.