China's Search for Talent and Tech: Towards a Theory of "Shortage"

November 9, 2021 - 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Dr. David Zweig (Professor Emeritus, Division of Social Sciences, HKUST)

Drawing on surveys, interviews and documentary searches, and employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, Dr. Zweig's presentation shows that a key to understanding the process of reverse migration of talent back to China is to focus on what is called "a theory of shortage." 

As several returned scientists remarked almost 20 years ago, the strategy they employed when they went abroad and the key to their successful return to China was their ability to find a skill or a technology which was in short supply in China and thereby give them a comparative advantage vis-a-vis locals who had not gone abroad in China's marketplace or in China's scientific or academic institutions. 

Even younger people who went abroad for shorter periods of time have found that the skills they developed abroad are an important part of their "transnational human capital," and greatly affect their satisfaction with their lives and their work. 

Dr. Zweig suggests that this phenomenon demonstrates the reasons for returnees' success as well as for China's technological progress in catching up with the West.

Next event in this series is as follows-

- December 7, Tuesday, 7:00-8:30pm  
“Principled Interdependence: How to Maintain America’s High-Tech Advantages Over China”
Speaker: Dr. Scott Kennedy (CSIS) 

If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact: Asian/Pacific Studies Institute ( by November 2, 2021.

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  • Duke University Center for International and Global Studies
  • Asian/Pacific Studies Institute