Transferring Skills Upon Return: Matching Aspirations in the Host Countries with the Reality Back in India

  • Gabriela Tejada
  • Md. Zakaria Siddiqui
Part of the Dynamics of Asian Development book series (DAD)


This chapter discusses the factors that influence the development aspirations of skilled Indians living in Europe and of those who have returned to India. While India is seen as a country that benefits from the positive effects of skilled migration, we have yet to develop a comprehensive understanding of the individual motivations that cause skilled Indians to apply their foreign-earned knowledge and skills to the development of the home country. There is also a shortage of evidence about whether these motivations actually materialise after return. Our analysis is an effort to uncover the factors that encourage motivated skilled returnees and diaspora members to effectively share their experience and knowledge for the broad-based development of India. Using a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the perceptions and expectations of skilled Indians, we identify the individual and home country factors that influence both their development aspirations and the changes to their social position after they return to India. While skilled Indians in Europe link their development aspirations to their return plans and believe that Indian society can benefit from their accrued expertise, they face several obstacles during the process of transferring knowledge to the local context. We observe that the desire to contribute to development is associated with disadvantageous identities and that socially underprivileged people register the greatest positive effects in terms of social position and influential role in society as a result of their foreign exposure. The findings point to important policy implications at an organisational and a country level i.e. for India and the European countries. At an organisational level, we suggest changes to the local work culture and structures to allow the skills and experience of the returnees to be recognised and harnessed effectively. At a country level, our analysis shows the need of policies and environments that facilitate the transfer of knowledge by returnees so that it can be used to promote balanced development in India.


Host Country Home Country Social Position Destination Country Return Migration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ammassari, S. (2003). From nation-building to entrepreneurship: The impact of elite return migrants in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Working paper. Sussex Centre for Migration Research. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  2. Biswas, R. R. (2014). Reverse migrant entrepreneurs in India: motivations, trajectories and realities. In G. Tejada, U. Bhattacharya, B. Khadria, & Ch. Kuptsch (Eds.), Indian skilled migration and development: to Europe and back (Chap. 12 in this volume). New Delhi: Springer.Google Scholar
  3. Black, R., & King, R. (2004). Editorial introduction: Migration, return and development in West Africa. Population, Space and Place, 10(2), 75–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Black, R., King, R., & Tiemoko, R. (2003). Migration, return and small enterprise development in Ghana: A route out of poverty? Working paper. Sussex Centre for Migration Research. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  5. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cassarino, J. P. (2004). Theorising return migration: A conceptual approach to return migrants revisited. International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 6(2), 253–279.Google Scholar
  7. Cerase, F. P. (1974). Expectations and reality: A case study of return migration from the United States to southern Italy. International Migration Review, 8(2), 245–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chacko, E. (2007). From brain drain to brain gain: Reverse migration to Bangalore and Hyderabad India’s globalizing high tech cities. GeoJournal, 68(2), 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cobo, S. (2008). Cómo entender la movilidad ocupacional de los migrantes de retorno? Una propuesta de marco explicativo para el caso mexicano. Estudios demogrãficos yurbanos 23(1), 159–177.Google Scholar
  10. CODEV-EPFL, IDSK, JNU, & ILO. (2013). Migration, scientific diasporas and development: Impact of skilled return migration on development in India. Final research report. Accessed 15 August 2013.
  11. Collinson, S. (2009). The political economy of migration processes: An agenda for migration research and analysis. Working paper 12. Oxford: University of Oxford, International Migration Institute. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  12. De Jong, G. (2000). Expectations, gender and norms in migration decision-making. Population Studies, 54(3), 307–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Drèze, J., & Sen, A. (2013). An uncertain glory: India and its contradictions. New Delhi: Penguin.Google Scholar
  14. Ghosh, B. (2000). Return migration: Reshaping policy approaches. In B. Ghosh (Ed.), Return migration: Journey of hope or despair? (pp. 181–226). Geneva: International Organization for Migration.Google Scholar
  15. Gmelch, G. (1980). Return migration. Annual Review of Anthropology, 9, 135–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gow, J., & Iredale, R. (2003). Socioeconomic impacts of return migration: Developing a comparative framework. In R. Iredale, F. Guo, & S. Rozario (Eds.), Return migration in the Asia Pacific (pp. 169–180). Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  17. Güngör, N. D. & Tansel, A. (2006). Brain drain from Turkey: An investigation of students’ return intentions. IZA discussion paper no. 2287. Bonn: Institute for the Study of Labor. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  18. de Haas, H. (2008). Migration and development: A theoretical perspective. Working paper 9. Oxford: University of Oxford, International Migration Institute. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  19. de Haas, H., & Fokkema, T. (2011). The effects of integration and transnational ties on international return migration intentions. Demographic Research, 25(24), 755–782. Google Scholar
  20. de Haas, H. (2012). The migration and development pendulum: A critical view on research and policy. International Migration, 50(3), 8–25. doi:  10.1111/j.1468-2435.2012.00755.x.
  21. Hercog, M. & Siddiqui, Z. (2014). Experiences in the host countries and return plans: the case study of highly skilled Indians in Europe. In G. Tejada, U. Bhattacharya, B. Khadria, & Ch. Kuptsch (Eds.), Indian skilled migration and development: to Europe and back (Chap. 9 in this volume). New Delhi: Springer. Google Scholar
  22. Iredale, R., Guo, F., & Rozario, S. (2003). Return migration in the Asia Pacific. Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  23. Itzigsohn, J., & Giorguli-Saucedo, S. (2002). Immigrant incorporation and sociocultural transnationalism. International Migration Review, 36(3), 766–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Khadria, B. (2004). Human resources in science and technology in India and the international mobility of highly skilled Indians. OECD STI working paper 2004/6. Paris: OECD. doi: 10.1787/18151965
  25. King, R. (1986). Return migration and regional economic development: An overview. In R. King (Ed.), Return migration and regional economic problems (pp. 1–37). London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  26. Müller, C. (2005). Gründungspolitik und Transformation. Zur Rolle von Gründungen chinesischer Remigranten für die Entwicklung von Unternehmertum in Shanghai. Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie 49(3/4), 237–254.Google Scholar
  27. Özden, C., Parsons, Ch., Schiff, M., & Walmsley, T. L. (2011). Where on earth in everybody? The evolution of global bilateral migration 1960–2000. The World Bank Economic Review, 25(1), 12–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Portes, A. (2001). The debates and significance of immigrant transnationalism. Global Networks, 1(3), 181–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Portes, A., Haller, W., & Guarnizo, L. (2002). Transnational entrepreneurs: An alternative form of immigrant economic adaptation. American Sociological Review, 67(2), 278–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sabates-Wheeler, R., Taylor, L., & Natali, C. (2009). Great expectations and reality checks: The role of information in mediating migrants’ experience on return. European Journal of Development Research, 21, 752–771. doi: 10.1057/ejdr.2009.39 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Saxenian, A.-L. (2006). The new argonauts: Regional advantage in a global economy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Saxenian, A-L. (2011). The new argonauts. Dublin: Diaspora matters. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  33. Soon, J-J. (2008). The determinants of international students’ return intentions. Economic discussion papers no. 0806. Dunedin: University of Otago. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  34. Taylor, J. E. (1999). The new economics of labour migration and the role of remittances in the migration process. International Migration, Special Issue: Migration and Development, 37(1), 183–203.Google Scholar
  35. Thomas-Hope, E. (1999). Return migration to Jamaica and its development potential. International Migration, 37(1), 183–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Van Dalen, H. P. & Henkens, K. (2008). Emigration intentions: Mere words or true plans? Explaining international migration intentions and behavior. Center for Economic Research Center. Discussion paper no. 2008–60. Tilburg: University of Tilburg. Accessed 15 August 2013.
  37. Waldorf, B. (1995). Determinants of international return migration intentions. Professional Geographer, 47(2), 125–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wickramasekara, P. (2002). Asian labour migration: Issues and challenges in an era of globalization. International migration papers no. 57. International Migration Programme. Geneva: International Labour Office. Accessed 13 March 2013.
  39. Wiesbrock, A. (2008). Return migration as a tool for economic development in China and India. IMDS working paper 3. New Delhi: International Migration and Diasporas Study Project (IMDS), JNU. Accessed 13 March 2013.

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cooperation and Development CenterÉcole Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Centre for Regulation and Market AnalysisUniversity of South Australia Business SchoolAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Development Studies KolkataKolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations