9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN24 Science and Technology

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Knowledge Flows and Mobility in Science and Technology Building AA, AA.223

International Scientific Mobility and Knowledge Flows - the Portuguese case

After decades of debate structured by the brain drain rhetoric, the international mobility of scientific researchers has been recently put under a more positive light. Recognized by several authors as a fundamental force behind the circulation of knowledge at the transnational level these movements are nowadays frequently portrayed as not only desirable but also worthy of policy incentives. Accordingly, one of the main principles behind the creation of the European Research Area underlines the importance of stimulating the mobility of researchers in the European context.
Nevertheless, the relationship between physical mobility and knowledge circulation still remains relatively under-researched. With the purpose of alleviating the shortage of empirical information about this increasingly relevant subject, this paper presents findings derived from a study conducted on Portugal based researchers, in three scientific domains (Health Sciences, Electrical Engineering and Sociology). Drawing on survey and interview data, as well as on science policy literature, the paper charts the perceptions of relevant actors (both researchers and research institutes? directors) on the connections between mobility - understood as a period spent researching abroad during one's career - and international knowledge flows. Taking into consideration differences between disciplines, lengths and purposes of stay and the nature of the work actually performed, an exploratory typology is advanced, with the intent of associating specific types of mobility with the circulation of different kinds of knowledge.
Thereby, we expect to provide a conceptual starting point in order to promote further empirical research. Given the strong political will in setting up a European dimension into scientific careers and the resultant need to devise concrete policy measures, the establishment of common based discussions on the tangible impacts of scientific mobility is absolutely essential. The empirical results presented were gathered under the auspices of the research project "Mobiscience - scientist's mobility in Portugal: trajectories and knowledge circulation" (www.mobiscienceportugal.com).