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Flight Capital: The Alarming Exodus of America's Best and Brightest Hardcover – September 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891062025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891062028
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,701,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A book that should be "must reading" for every community leader and politician in Hawaii. -- Pacific Business News, Sept. 16, 2005

A slow, withering decline into mediocrity. Sound gloomy? Read Heenan's proposals and wake-up calls in FLIGHT CAPITAL. -- Spirit of Aloha (Aloha Airlines Magazine), Nov/Dec 2005

A thought-provoking study essential to understanding the future of immigrant talent in this nation. -- Midwest Book Review, February 2006

An insightful new book. A wake up call to leaders in American government and industry to act now -- ..

Fascinating examination. Gives readers a firm foundation on which to build an informed opinion and specific ways they can respond. -- Soundview Executive Book Summary, February 2006

Heenan is an old hand at the global game, having worked for the famed trading house Jardine Matheson and Citicorp. -- U.S. News & World Report, September 19, 2005

Riveting look at the global war over human capital and 12 steps we must take to reverse the disturbing trend. -- Book Buzz by Anita Bruzzese, Nov. 6, 2005

From the Publisher

There's no place like home. At least that's what U.S. immigrants seem to think.

America's foreign-born superstars are hotfooting it back to their motherland--and in alarming numbers of up to 1,000 per day. What's worse, they're among the best and brightest in science and technology--the kind of immigrant brainpower that gives rise to the likes of Google, Yahoo, and eBay and propels today's innovation economy.

So, where are they going? And why? And what does such a "reverse brain drain" mean for America's future?

David Heenan, a leading expert on globalization, spent five years crisscrossing the globe--traveling to eight countries on three continents--to unearth the answers.

From Iceland to India, Heenan sat down for one-on-one interviews with more than 100 top-flight repatriates--many of them world-class thinkers in science and technology--along with dozens of foreign-based government and business leaders who are spearheading some bold initiatives to lure talent away from the United States.

Each of the repatriates' personal stories is uniquely their own. What they share, however, is a desire to use their American-earned experiences to benefit their homeland. The bottom line for the U.S., says Heenan: A wrenching talent gap, as America moves from importer of innovators to net exporter of human capital.

What to do? The answers do not require a dramatic reversal of America's present course, says Heenan. They do, however, call for a series of innovative reforms--from revamping immigration policies to overhauling public education--that U.S. leaders from government, business, and academia must wake up to before it's too late.

For starters, Heenan proposes a 12-step action plan for attracting and retaining more immigrant brainpower--starting with "know thy competition"--while boosting the strength of America's native sons and daughters.

Other insights and ideas that Heenan offers in FLIGHT CAPITAL are:

* Why globalization is a good servant, but a bad master--and what U.S. companies can do to make it work for them * Why it's impossible to accurately measure the reverse brain drain (and why America must assume the worst) * The converging factors of outmigration--political, cultural, economic, and technological * How China, India, and other nations are enticing emigrants home--offering significant tax breaks, unprecendented venture capital funding, and more * How "nanonations" such as Iceland and Singapore are competing to win * Why the current exodus extends well beyond the ranks of the immigrants themselves * Why repatriates' ties to America don't stick--and what the U.S. can do about it * How post-9/11 immigration restrictions are widening America's talent gap * Why the U.S. must celebrate and fund science and technology--or risk falling further behind * Why the right attitude is neither dark pessimism nor wild optimism--but sober realism

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Customer Reviews

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Fortunately, this book scored very well on substance and on form.
M. L Lamendola
Richard Florida's "The Flight of the Creative Class" and this book by David Heenan hit the on the same challenge facing America.
Further, the US has seen a 25% decline in math and science PhDs since 1997. (p. 259).
M. E. Mccaffrey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert F. Kay on October 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
After picking up David Heenan's latest book, Flight Capital, I couldn't help thinking of a comment by Walter Wriston, former president and chairman of Citicorp, and one of the most innovative financiers of our time. In his book, The Twilight of Sovereignty, Wriston opined that in an era where information flows freely, "capital will always go where it is welcome and stay where it is well-treated." By capital, he meant not only money but human capital.

With these words the late Mr. Wriston (who was actually Heenan's former boss and mentor) summarizes with eerie prescience Flight Capital's premise-- the United States can no longer count on attracting human capital from around the world as its birthright.

Heenan, former University of Hawaii School of Business Dean, Citicorp executive and currently trustee for the Estate of James Campbell in Hawaii, explains that after generations of importing the best brainpower to our shores, foreign-born, US educated technocrats are going back to the countries of their origin. When our nation's best brains walk, they take with them intellectual capital, skills and an entrepreneurial edge that only an immigrant can muster.

As America's human capital diminishes, so does this country's technological preeminence and with it, our economic supremacy. This trend, says the author, will soon lead to a day or reckoning if we don't do something to stem the tide.

Flight Capital chronicles the personal accounts of a numerous professionals who have left this country for the lands of their birth. Country by county he cites a litany of sterling entrepreneurs and technology wizards that find the grass is greener back home.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Shortly before reviewing this book, I attended a conference at which many of the attendees were executives. Conversation at breaks and during the lunch kept turning to a single topic not even on the conference agenda: "How hard it is to find people who can do the work."

Joe Salimando, an electrical industry analyst, predicted a shortage of electricians and project managers--more than ten years ago. That shortage has hit today, with a vengeance. The average electrician is in his mid-40s, and the average senior project manager is in his early 60s. The statistics are grim for other brainworkers--both in skilled trades and in the professions. The average nurse is 53 years old, for example. And try to hire a competent machinist--I dare you!

None of this should be surprising. In the 1970s, schools began to abandon properly equipping children for the real world. That is not to say that every graduate of the 1970s and later is inept. But what has happened is the best and brightest have had to succeed despite their "education," not because of it.

Another factor is 98% of American homes contain a brainwashing machine (also called a "television"). These machines expose their victims to a steady stream of anxiety-producing marketing messages, regularly scheduled depressing news, and a litany of falsehoods and propaganda. Which is why I haven't watched television since my early days of graduate school (oh, so long ago--and I don't miss it).

Compounding the difficulties, American corporations are run mostly by plundering executives and incestuous boards. The corporate practice of squeezing non-executive employees to pay for the lavish "compensation" of CEOs and key officers is still a problem, despite some recent federal cases.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty on October 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me say at the outset. This is not the sort of book I would normally buy at a bookstore or borrow from the library. In fact, I probably wouldn't even be shopping or browsing in the designated section which includes this book. Had this book not been sent to me for review, I wouldn't have known about it. And it would have been a sad occurrence indeed. I say that because this is a great book on a fascinating topic and I'm pleased that I was given the opportunity to read it. I learned a lot I didn't know about the phenomenon of globalization and also about a problem of which I was unaware: the flight of America's best and brightest to other countries around the world. David Heenan, the author of this important work, says it right up front: "Forget terrorism. Forget weapons of mass destruction. The next global war will be fought over human capital." And he methodically presents his case providing lots of information about the eight countries he surveys: Ireland, Iceland, India, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Israel, and Mexico.

According to the author, who has experience in both business and academia and is a leading expert on globalization, the best and brightest in America are returning to their homelands in record numbers. More importantly, they are also taking America's technological expertise and economic preeminence with them. In this book he explores this exodus through the personal stories of dozens of successful, foreign-born professionals who are leaving America for opportunities in their native lands. Drawing on their experiences, Heenan analyzes the economic, cultural, and political factors that are driving this flight, as well as the initiatives that countries are using to attract top talent.
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