Foreign STEM Students and Immigration Policy
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
- Chair: Shulamit Kahn, Boston University
Innovation in the Tech Start-up Process: Early Employees and Founders
AbstractTech start-up companies are often founded around a specific innovation that they are hoping to bring to market. Many of them also engage in extensive R&D, resulting in innovations that may later be patented. Research has identified many key factors that impact the success of that process, including the availability of human capital (or innovative talent), the resources that are existing or can be generated during the start-up process, networks, and so on. Foreign STEM students and immigrant scientists are an important source of talent both in the innovation process as well as being founders of tech firms. Start-up firms also engage a variety of actors during this process, including the founders and/or owners, early employees, external consultants, collaborators, and so on. This paper takes a close look at several cohorts of tech startups in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) where we have collected detailed survey data on the roles of employees, owners and founders in the innovation process, details about their personalities, their goals and their use of the networking facilities at CIC, and combined these with firm-level outcome data that includes patents and citations, venture capital financing, data on IPOs and other exits, and other detailed data on the founders’ place of birth, specific education and other human capital indicators. Using these data we provide a comprehensive look at the innovation process, and the role that networks play in the process. We also look at the correlations between the tech startup employees’ and founders’ personality characteristics and their innovation outcomes, contributing to earlier literature studying this nexus.
Will the United States Keep the Best and the Brightest? Career and Location Preferences of Foreign STEM PhDs
AbstractA key factor behind the emergence and persistence of U.S. leadership in STEM fields has been its ability to attract and retain top tier talent from other countries. Talented foreigners have typically come to the U.S. as graduate students and stayed in the U.S. in academic or industry careers. The current U.S. political climate is characterized by uncertainty regarding H-1B visas, a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, and possible cuts in federal funding for scientific research, all of which could affect the location preferences of foreign STEM PhDs. Time will tell whether the location decisions of foreign STEM students will change; however, an early indicator of potentially shifting location preferences can be obtained by surveying them. In this paper, we discuss findings from a recent novel survey of current doctoral students in a major STEM field – Chemistry – conducted in 2017 at 50 U.S. institutions about their career and location preferences. First, we estimate the career preferences of foreign and US STEM PhD students for different types of post-graduation jobs – postdocs, industry, or teaching positions – using both hypothetical choice methods and more standard Likert measures of preferences for different careers. Second, we examine students’ location preferences using based on a hypothetical choice method. We proceed to use these counterfactual job questions to construct a revealed-preferences ranking of universities as locations to do a chemistry postdoc. Our findings show the foreign and U.S. Chemistry Ph.D. students have significantly different preferences for careers, with foreign students being much more likely to prefer doing a postdoc. Foreign students also value a U.S. location more than U.S. students, and their revealed preference ranking of locations for a postdoc differ in many ways. Our results suggest the U.S. will manage to retain talented foreign graduate students and no brain exodus is in sight.
Human Mobility and Knowledge Flows
- O0 - General
- J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers