International migration, talent mobility and entrepreneurship ecosystems: Evidence from China

Lead Academic: Yipeng Liu

Introduction

There is extensive interest on entrepreneurship ecosystems from policymakers (OECD, 2013) and entrepreneurs (Feld, 2012). Based on the observations in a few advanced economies, entrepreneurship ecosystems are considered as topdown, institution-led phenomena. However, a more bottom-up approach is actually more effective (Brannback, et al. 2008), as entrepreneurs can play a key role in developing an entrepreneurship ecosystem (Auerswald, 2015). China’s returning graduates now outnumber students going overseas to study. The science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) skills of these graduates contribute to entrepreneurial activities but there is little understanding of the complex drivers and implications of returnee migration. Funded by the British Academy, this research project aims to advance the understanding of entrepreneurship ecosystems in China by examining the role of returnee migration and exploring what mechanisms can help build such a system in emerging economies.

Research objectives

Using a rich dataset on returnee migration in China we will assess the causes that have led to Chinese return migration, and the policy and managerial implications as a model for broader social mobility that enhances regional entrepreneurship and innovation. We will then conduct interviews with entrepreneurs, local government officials and a Chinese technology incubator to examine the influence of returnee migration on building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in China. The results will give insights on the influence of returnee migration as drivers of entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing valuable outputs for entrepreneurs and policymakers in emerging economies in general and China in particular.

Guiding questions include: what are the reasons for Chinese return migration? What are the policy and managerial implications surrounding Chinese return migration? In which sector and to what extent can returnee talent play a leading role in contributing to economic growth? The results will give insights about the extent to which policies aimed at attracting talent may be conducive to entrepreneurial activities.

Furthermore, we will use in-depth interviews to examine the role of talent in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in China. This will give insights into the role of returnee migration in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in China providing valuable outputs for entrepreneurs and policymakers.

Project-related impact, engagement and events

This British Academy project has attracted wide attention from leading academic scholars, business community and policymakers. Dr Yipeng Liu is now leading several initiatives, and has been invited to join as lead participant, for the purpose of achieving Engagement for Influence and Impact.  The following lists selective engagement activities and forthcoming events.

Research team

  • Yipeng Liu, University of Birmingham, UK (Principal Investigator)
  • Yijun Xing, Beijing Jiao Tong University, China (Co-Principal Investigator)

Contact

Dr Yipeng Liu
Department of Entrepreneurship & Local Economy
Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom
Email: Y.Liu.8@bham.ac.uk