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Science  22 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6126, pp. 1360
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6126.1360-a
CREDIT: © TOM THAI

There have been many discussions of the importance of “returnees,” expatriates who have gained their technical education in the United States and then return to their native country. Kenney et al. examine the supposition that such returnees have been responsible for pioneering new industries in China, Taiwan, and India, with a focus on the information and communications technology (ICT) industry. Although each country had its own history of development, returnees were important in the expansion of domestic industries, not at the start. For example, none of the founders of the pioneering ICT companies examined in China were educated or had worked in the United States. Rather, government support and interactions with multinational companies were crucial in providing fertile ground for domestic entrepreneurs in all three regions studied. Although this analysis is focused only on one type of industry, these insights could help policy-makers in thinking about the best way to nurture industry development. For example, it may be more important to first build an environment conducive to local entrepreneurs than to invest money in enticing émigrés to return home to a system that is not yet ready to build on their contributions.

Res. Pol. 42, 391 (2013).

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