از انتقال دانش تا یادگیری: کسب و جذب سرمایه های انسانی در امارات متحده عربی و دیگر کشورهای خلیج فارس
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4966||2013||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Geoforum, Volume 46, May 2013, Pages 124–137
This paper examines efforts by the United Arab Emirates and the other Arab Gulf States to use their oil wealth to “import” the human capital necessary to diversify their economies beyond oil. It explores how new forms of development capacity, necessary to create and sustain new industries in the Gulf, are acquired in the context of a global labor market. By studying the circulation and absorption of global human capital in the Gulf, this paper seeks to move beyond the focus on how institutions render flows of knowledge transferable or not. Instead, it emphasizes the ways in which institutions shape the ability of a place to assimilate and integrate foreign knowledge locally. This is accomplished by presenting results from surveys conducted with 300 foreign and local firms from throughout the Gulf region and key-informant interviews undertaken with 30 representatives of firms in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The results indicate that Gulf strategies to attract international investment, trade and migration have succeeded. These efforts, however, have not been accompanied by social integration mechanisms for the assimilation of external knowledge. Expatriate workers and foreign firms adapt their knowledge transactions for application to the region’s unique business and regulatory environments. Once in its localized form, this knowledge circulates within bounded, expatriate social spaces. These results, however, vary across key industries and locations. The key exception is found in the region’s financial sector, where local employment quotas have mandated high levels of learning via foreign–local interaction, and where locally embedded, personal relationships are the most valued asset a knowledge-worker can possess.
Can places attract and utilize global human capital and foreign knowledge through migration, trade, and investment as means to generate local development capacity? Geographers have argued that – more than merely a factor of production which can purchased, imported or transplanted – knowledge is situated in particular places and institutional contexts (Amin and Cohendet, 2004). In contrast to material resources or physical products, knowledge is difficult to transfer to other actors and places: it is generated in and limited to the social spaces where it is being used (Bathelt and Gluckler, 2005). While these approaches tell us a great deal about the spatial and institutional determinants of knowledge transfer, they tell us less about the issue of receptivity (Morgan, 1997), and the ways in which place-specific learning institutions shape the ability of a place to absorb, assimilate and integrate global knowledge in a local context. This paper seeks to fill that gap. Fueled by the post-1998 oil boom, the oil-abundant, labor-deficient United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the other Arab Gulf States (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia), have undertaken spectacular efforts to create new, global hubs for services and for capital- and energy-intensive industries, deploying their oil wealth to buy, rent and import diversified, non-oil development capacity. Yet, despite representing some of the wealthiest countries in the world, these states face a unique human capital barrier to economic transition: a reliance on foreign knowledge for economic growth. In stark contrast to its local demographic and employment dilemmas, the Gulf’s ambitious post-industrial development plans have stimulated a powerful new demand for expatriates to fill related skill and technology gaps. This challenge illustrates the distinction between the mobilization and attraction of knowledge, on the one hand, and the absorption and assimilation of knowledge, on the other. First, the Gulf States have sought to leverage their ability to attract foreign labor, knowledge and technology, learned through oil development, as a basis on which to construct a new competitive advantage. Second, the region’s governments have sought to ensure that new industries are able to generate local revenue, create greater employment opportunities for local citizens, and allow the region to reduce its reliance on skilled expatriates in key industries and occupations. The Gulf countries have successfully acquired state-of-the-art business models, industrial knowledge and technological capabilities, but what happens to this global human capital once it is imported? Existing approaches to the geographies of knowledge have examined the determinants and spatial dimensions of knowledge transfer between and across firms, places and individuals. For the most part, geographers have focused on the ways in which institutions can help or hinder the transfer of particular forms of knowledge across space, rendering these flows transferable or non-transferable, decipherable or indecipherable (Gertler and Vinodrai, 2005). Can knowledge be attracted or mobilized without being transferred, or exchanged or transferred between firms without being absorbed and integrated within a place? This paper takes a somewhat different approach, by shifting the emphasis from the transmission of knowledge by firms and the institutional determinants of knowledge transfer to the reception of knowledge by places and the institutional determinants of learning. In particular, it emphasizes the ways in which territorial learning institutions, infrastructures and conventions shape the ability of a place to absorb and integrate external knowledge. There is a significant body of literature on the spatial dimensions of technological learning, describing the importance of localized learning or identifying the ensemble of institutions which comprise territorial innovation systems (e.g. Bunnell and Coe, 2001 and Malmberg and Maskell, 2006). Yet, the focus is on explaining successful learning outcomes in a place after external knowledge has already been introduced, emphasizing the beneficial role of institutions in that place to explain the presence of learning economies. This paper instead examines the ways in which place-specific institutional contexts shape and mediate the processes that allow learning in the first place, before external knowledge is introduced, as well as the ways in which institutions can prohibit learning. By studying the circulation of foreign knowledge in the Gulf, embodied in expatriate knowledge workers and foreign firms, this research seeks to capture the ways in which particular learning contexts condition the transfer of knowledge by foreign participants and the assimilation of this knowledge by local firms and workers. I argue that the degree to which local learning results from the import of foreign knowledge is a function of a place’s absorptive capacity. Most generally, this is comprised of the stock of existing human capital and the level of complementarity between new, external knowledge and the existing, local knowledge base. This paper builds on a deeper conceptualization of absorptive capacity by incorporating the role of formal learning institutions, such as labor market and employment structures and education and training systems, as well as informal institutions and conventions, such as cultures of work and ways of doing business. In particular, it emphasizes the role of social mechanisms for the integration of external knowledge, which shape the level and quality of social interaction between global knowledge flows and local human capital stocks. The results indicate that while the Gulf has succeeded in attracting global knowledge flows and in ensuring high levels of knowledge creation and exchange among foreign firms and expatriate workers, the region has been less successful in ensuring that this knowledge is assimilated and integrated by local workers. This is attributed, firstly, to the Gulf’s formal institutional context. Formal learning institutions shape the availability of foreign workers to fill these skill and labor gaps in emerging sectors, as well as the employment and education preferences of local workers. Regulatory structures and incentives that condition the entry and activities of foreign firms play a key role as well, making the Gulf an attractive destination for global knowledge flows, but not stipulating structured knowledge transfer arrangements or local employment or training provisions. Secondly, it reflects the region’s informal institutional context, and the ways in which the Gulf’s entrenched ways of doing business and cultures of work shapes the knowledge sourcing practices and preferences of foreign and local firms. As firms formulate strategies in order to adapt to this unique cultural and economic setting, they ultimately reproduce existing human capital distortions. This informal institutional context also serves as a disincentive for social interaction between local and expatriate workers, thus inhibiting the interactive, experience-based learning necessary for tacit knowledge absorption. This paper employs a mixed-methods approach, based on a human capital survey of 300 foreign and local firms from throughout the region, and key-informant interviews with survey participants at UAE firms. The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. The next section reviews the current literature on the geographies of knowledge and the institutional dimensions of learning. Section 3 describes the Gulf historical context, placing this context within the literature on knowledge and learning. The methodology comprises Section 4. Section 5 presents the results of the survey, while Sections 6 and 7 each analyzes data collected from key-informant interviews. Section 6 examines the broader determinants of knowledge circulation, transfer and learning, while Section 7 focuses on industry-specific dynamics, particularly in the financial sector. The conclusions of the study are presented in Section 8.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper began by posing the question of whether places can attract and utilize global human capital and foreign knowledge through migration, trade and investment as means to generate local development capacity. Building on this question an alternative interpretation of institutional effects on the geographies of knowledge has been proposed. This meant shifting the focus from that of the knowledge flow and the institutional factors rendering that flow transferable or not, to the space where knowledge is being received and the institutional determinants of learning there. The Gulf’s human capital acquisition strategies have served to illustrate this distinction between the attraction and absorption of global knowledge flows. On the one hand, the Gulf governments have sought to create an attractive climate for international companies and their knowledgeable workforces. On the other hand, the region has had to figure out how to ensure that foreign knowledge flows generate local spillovers. This includes knowledge transfer by foreign participants as well as knowledge absorption by local firms and workers. Each side of this policy conundrum speaks to the broader issue of what it means for places to be “sticky” in the global economy, attracting and keeping capital and labor (Markusen, 1996). It is evident that the ability of a place to leverage global knowledge flows in order to create local development capacity is a function of a wide range of learning processes and benchmarks; for example, knowledge need evaluation – a place’s assessment of its knowledge needs and the strategies it chooses to fill knowledge gaps; knowledge acquisition – how a place fills those gaps; knowledge exchange – the dissemination by knowledge holders and absorption by local workers; iv. knowledge assimilation – the turnover and advancement of local labor in foreign companies and the application of external knowledge locally; and the reproduction of foreign knowledge locally – creative entrepreneurship (based on Roper and Love, 2006 and Stewart and Nihei, 1987). Most significantly, the paper emphasized how a place’s unique institutional context differentially conditions these learning processes across various types of firms, industries and workers, thereby determining how, or whether, this knowledge is absorbed and assimilated by local firms and workers. In this sense, the results indicate that the social dimensions of learning, shaped by place-specific institutional contexts, heavily influence these outcomes long before new, external knowledge flows enter the picture. In sum, the degree to which the import of foreign knowledge results in local development capacity is a function of, first, the formal institutions and conventions in place which regulate labor markets and skill formation, second, the complementarity between new, external knowledge and the existing knowledge base, and third, the presence of mechanisms for the social integration of external knowledge. While the UAE institutional context is highly conducive to attracting and acquiring external knowledge, as well as for the transfer and circulation of knowledge among foreign firms and their workers, it is does not contain the local incentive institutions and social integration mechanisms necessary to absorb and assimilate external knowledge. Without operationalizing incentives for interactive, collective learning opportunities as a condition of entry for foreign firms and their workforces, the result is a dual economy: first, a dynamic, market-based economy driven by expatriate labor and knowledge, with little local content; and, second, a distorted, oil-driven public sector which provides employment to the local population. The Gulf region’s various diversification efforts have been undertaken in separate geographic and institutional spaces in order to preserve the legitimacy of these governments and the institutions which govern wealth distribution and public employment. Rather than being based on objective standards, qualifications and experience, it will be difficult to overcome a tendency to favor personal contacts, nepotism, regionalism and family name (Weir, 2007). In the cultures of both China and the Arab world, managers and organizational members will share knowledge only with those with whom they already have built a trustful relationship (Weir and Hutchings, 2005). The nature of trust in Chinese Guanxi and Arab Wasta are distinctly different from the notions of trust – and the learning benefits which can result – now common in Western and Japanese contexts (Nonaka and Toyama, 2002). The Gulf economies are clearly in the dirigiste camp, where government plays a key role. This is in contrast to interactive or network regional innovation systems (De Laurentis, 2006), where the government’s primary tasks are to “shape the economic structures and institutions that promote learning in areas [and to] break up structures and institutions that block learning or lead to ‘lock-in’” (Lundvall, 2000, pp. 101–102). It is clear that optimism can be found in the financial sector, where the region has established high levels of local development capacity. This can be attributed to four practices in this sector which promote interactive learning between citizens and expatriate workers and which enable the practices that embed expatriate knowledge in local workers. First, the banking industry is subject to labor nationalization regulations, which stipulate increasing proportions of local employment content, but also force interaction between local and foreign labor. Second, the banking sector builds on both the region’s pre-oil trade heritage and the equity investment knowledge garnered as part of the oil development experience. Third, the wage and working conditions found in banking are the most similar to that of the public sector, providing an attractive alternative to Gulf citizens seeking more challenge and international experience than would be offered in government employment. Fourth, while the technical skills and industry-specific expertise of expatriates is an operational requirement of international banking, as it is throughout the world, local employment content is equally necessary to keep funds flowing in. Only local citizens have the established connections with pools of available capital. As a result, even foreign banks see local employees as vital for success in the Gulf business environment. In general, the Gulf states have clearly succeeded in deploying their oil wealth to attract and utilize global knowledge via flows of migration, trade and investment, although with mixed results. As world crude oil prices fell from a record US $145 per barrel to US $39 per barrel over a period of 5 months in 2008, some investors responded by promptly exiting the region, along with their labor, knowledge and technology. Thus, questions remain as to the long-term viability and sustainability of the Gulf development model.