- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Annotated edition edition (April 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674022017
- ISBN-13: 978-0674022010
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,011,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy Annotated edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Argonauts, Saxenian's mythic term for global commuters employed in the high tech sector, are not the ominous invaders American economic isolationists fear-stealing jobs and ideas from Americans and spiriting them abroad. Rather, Saxenian argues, such global entrepreneurs have created domestic and foreign jobs and reduced the cost of technology for businesses and consumers. Saxenian is at her best when describing the relatively short history of the international entrepreneur-commuter: the Argonauts, though equipped with Ph.D.s from American universities, hit ethnicity-based glass ceilings in the States and chose entrepreneurship over floundering in middle-management. Bright, young, foreign-born entrepreneurs formed technology companies (with the help of western venture capital and management theory) in their home countries and succeeded where traditional development initiatives failed. However, when Saxenian projects the implications of Argonaut activity or their future, she sounds prematurely optimistic; some readers may have a hard time envisioning, as Saxenian does, widespread future interglobal cooperation aimed at solving humanity's problems.
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Remarkable...There is probably no more experienced and astute chronicler of the advent of the Silicon Valley ecosystem than AnnaLee Saxenian... This will be a much discussed and cited book, and deservedly so. It has focused our attention on a potentially decisive phenomenon for 21st century economic development. (Michael Storper Journal of Economic Geography 2006-11-03)
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In a related paper, she had written: "In the United States, discussions of the immigration of scientists and engineers have focused primarily on the extent to which foreign-born professionals displace native workers. The view from sending countries, by contrast, has been that the emigration of highly skilled personnel to the United States represents a big economic loss, a brain drain. Neither view is adequate in today's global economy. Far from simply replacing native workers, foreign-born engineers are starting new businesses and generating jobs and wealth at least as fast as their U.S. counterparts. And the dynamism of emerging regions in Asia and elsewhere now draws skilled immigrants homeward. Even when they choose not to return home, they are serving as middlemen linking businesses in the United States with those in distant regions." [Brain Circulation: How High-Skill Immigration Makes Everyone Better Off - 2002] In the end, she added: "Essentially, the new argonauts are people who have learned the Silicon Valley model, usually by doing graduate work in the U.S. and getting absorbed into the Silicon Valley boom. They marinated in the Silicon Valley culture and learned it. This really began in the late `80s for the Israelis and Taiwanese, and not until the late `90s or even the beginning of the `00s for the Indians and Chinese. They began to realize that they could take advantage of their own personal networks in their home countries to provide skill that was scarce in the Valley, and that they could even go home and start businesses there that would tap their old networks. Usually, they were going home and tapping their undergraduate colleagues or their friends from the military, in the case of Israel. They knew and they understood how to work the institutions and the culture of those places, often the language too, better than anyone else in the world."
From the New Argonauts, I will take only two small paragraphs: "Graduating classes from the elite engineering program at National Taiwan University, for example, came to the United States in the 1980s, as did a majority of engineering and computer science graduates from the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. Technical universities from smaller countries like Ireland and Israel also report large proportions of graduates leaving to study in the United States, although their numbers are too small to show up in the aggregate data. [Page 50]
Now the depressing argument! "The technical elite in countries like France and Japan move automatically into high-status positions at the top of the large corporations or the civil service. They have little incentive to study or work abroad, and often face significant opportunity costs if they do. As a result, relatively few pursue graduate education in the United States, and those who do often return home directly after graduation. Those who end up in Silicon Valley for a period are not likely to gain access to capital, professional opportunities, or respect when they return home." [Page 333]
Saxenian has a long history on the topic. She began in 1999 when she published Silicon Valley's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs. In two related studies, Saxenian and colleagues had a much deeper quantitative analysis. These were America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs in 2007 by Vivek Wadhwa, AnnaLee Saxenian, Ben Rissing, and Gary Gereffi; it was updated in 2012 in America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs: - Then and Now written by Vivek Wadhwa, AnnaLee Saxenian and F. Daniel Siciliano. There are interesting data for Europeans migrants and not only the onews from Asia. Europe has many Silicon Valley migrants also. But we have not been capable (yet) of using them fruitfully as Asia did. We only begin... Europe sees the value of migration (still only one way, attracting talent) and hopefully we will benefit from accepting the lessons...
Traditional economic worldviews assumed that the success of companies and countries from peripheral 20th century economies - Taiwan, China, India, Israel - were destined to build on the successes and advancements of leading edge G8 economies (U.S., Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Russia). These worldviews anticipated a constant brain drain from the trailing economies to the leading economies, assuming talent would aggregate and then remain where the opportunity was. And, until recently, there was plenty of evidence for this view.
Today's global economic reality has turned this worldview on its ear - or at the very least forced a serious revision. The percentage of talent who come to the U.S. to be educated and then remain here to work has reversed - to spell it out: More people are returning to their homes to seek opportunity, even after many years in the U.S.
One current worry is that the U.S. now faces a brain drain as these technologically astute entrepreneurs exit our economy. Saxenian discovered that what we're experiencing is not a brain drain but a "brain circulation." Many, often two or more from the same country, are founding companies that think globally from day one. Rather than just competing on low cost - the traditional assumption of competitive advantage - they have mainly pursued strategic, innovative, value added trajectories all the while maintaining close ties to Silicon Valley relationships, technology and markets. Instead of attempting to reproduce Silicon Valley back home, these Argonauts are establishing complementary versions of Silicon Valley, each with its specialization. This has effectively given rise to a global technology business ecosystem. Within this system, the Argonauts are able to locate foreign partners as needed, manage complex organizations across cultures and languages, circulate know-how, and attract talent and capital. On top of which they make significant contributions to world-class education and research.
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