Vietnamese Diaspora – A “Brain Drain”?
“Brain-Drain” is the migration of best and brightest from poor countries to rich countries. Vietnam, like many other low and middle income countries, had seen its best leave for greener pastures. But now, at least for some countries, the best and brightest may be returning home.
UC Berkeley Haas School of Business professor, Dr. AnnaLee Saxenian, has been studying the interrelations of entrepreneurship and globalization through a case study of Silicon Valley. Her studies suggest that there have been a recent shift from “Brain-Drain” to “Brain-Circulation,” meaning foreign born entrepreneurs are becoming “agents of globalization by investing in their native countries, and their growing mobility in turn [fuels] the emergence of entrepreneurial networks in distant locations.”
Dr. Saxenian obseved that Asian-Americans, primarily those from China, Taiwan, and India, make up over one third of Silicon Valley’s high-skilled workers. This is not surprising because:
1) There is a high concentration of Chinese, Taiwanese and Indian immigrants in the Bay area
2) These immigrants place strong emphasis on education, specifically science and engineering.
Moreover, Dr. Saxenian found that most successful foreign-born entrepreneurs owe their success to their “ethnic resources.” By leveraging their social and ethnic communities, these entrepreneurs (many are recent immigrants) have been able to build professional and business networks that “support their US ventures, which they use to accelerate the formation of new firms” in their native countries.
The big question here is – why haven’t we, Vietnamese Americans, turned our “Brain-Drain” to a “Brain-Circulation?”
Do we need to establish and maintain stronger links to Vietnam?
Do we need to better leverage our social and ethnic communities?
Can we too leverage our “ethnic resources” to create business and investment opportunities in Vietnam?
Is it only then, can we pull Vietnam above the poverty line?