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Global Talent: Skilled Labor as Social Capital in Korea

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Stanford University Press, page(s): 216

March 2015

Global Talent seeks to examine the utility of skilled foreigners beyond their human capital value by focusing on their social capital potential, especially their role as transnational bridges between host and home countries. Gi-Wook Shin (Stanford University) and Joon Nak Choi (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) build on an emerging stream of research that conceptualizes global labor mobility as a positive-sum game in which countries and businesses benefit from building ties across geographic space, rather than the zero-sum game implied by the "global war for talent" and "brain drain" metaphors.

"Advanced economies like Korea face a growing mismatch between low birth rates and increasing demand for skilled labor. Shin and Choi use original, comprehensive data and a global outlook to provide careful, accessible and persuasive analysis. Their prescriptions for Korea and other economies challenged by high-level labor shortages will amply reward readers of this landmark study."  —Mark Granovetter, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

The book empirically demonstrates its thesis by examination of the case of Korea: a state archetypical of those that have been embracing economic globalization while facing a demographic crisis—and one where the dominant narrative on the recruitment of skilled foreigners is largely negative. It reveals the unique benefits that foreign students and professionals can provide to Korea, by enhancing Korean firms' competitiveness in the global marketplace and by generating new jobs for Korean citizens rather than taking them away. As this research and its key findings are relevant to other advanced societies that seek to utilize skilled foreigners for economic development, the arguments made in this book offer insights that extend well beyond the Korean experience.

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