Diverse workforce linked to high-quality research

European countries that have a greater proportion of foreigners in their skilled workforce produce more highly cited research, a study has concluded.

April 14, 2013

The analysis of 20 European countries found that diversity in the workforce also led to more patents being registered.

Migration, Cultural Diversity and Innovation: A European Perspectivesays that foreigners boost natives’ productivity because “new ideas are likely to arise through the interaction of diverse cultures and diverse approaches in problem solving”.

The paper looked at the “cultural diversity” of the workforce and its effect on patenting and the production of scientific papers, weighed by citation, and found that it had a “positive impact”.

A 1 per cent increase in the share of skilled migrants increased the number of patents by between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent, it found.

Cristina Cattaneo, a senior researcher at the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Italy, and one of the study authors, said that diverse research teams were better able to overcome complex technical problems.

She said that the findings reinforced the idea that it was not necessarily possible to substitute foreigners with natives without any negative effect on productivity, because the two groups were complementary as they possessed different cultures.

The paper was presented at a conference, Migration: Global Development, New Frontiers, on 11 April at University College London.

It comes a week after the UK government introduced new guidelines that lowered the amount international students must earn if they want to stay on in the UK in graduate jobs, including academic and research positions.

The study’s findings mirror a 2012 paper Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrolment Fluctuations in US Doctoral Programmes, which looked at the papers produced by science and engineering departments in the United States.

Departments with more foreign doctoral students tended to produce more papers and win more citations, it found.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman