Dr Nick Williams, Associate Professor in Enterprise, has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, which will examine the role of the diaspora in fostering entrepreneurship in their home countries. Here he talks more about this topic:
The movement of people across borders is very much in the news, with the migrant crisis an ongoing feature of political debate. As people move away from areas of war and crisis in search of better lives, discussion rages about how such high levels of migration can be managed effectively and how policies fit within European ideals of the free movement of people. While the numbers of recent migrants may be unprecedented, such movements are not new.
The challenge for many developing economies is how to harness the investment and entrepreneurial activity of their diasporas to benefit development in their country of origin. This can be through direct investment such as remittances or the setting up of businesses in their home country, or the sharing of knowledge with other entrepreneurs, either family or friends, who then benefit from this advanced knowledge.
The role played by the diaspora, who are defined as economic migrants and their descendants who maintain a relationship to their country of origin is an under-researched topic and the project will make a significant contribution to academic and policy understanding about how the movement of people can benefit both their host and home countries.
The Research Fellowship will focus on the three former Yugoslav economies of Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro, all of which have seen significant outflows of migrants as a result of the wars of the 1990s and ongoing economic challenges.
In all three countries, the diaspora community and the remittances they provide continue to be significant. The countries also provide a useful comparison as they represent differing levels of institutional reform: Montenegro has reformed as part of its official candidacy to the EU; while Bosnia and Kosovo are not official EU candidates and have followed different paths, with Kosovo adopting more Western influenced institutions, and Bosnia dividing government and governance on ethnic grounds.
Recently, Nick was in Prishtina to interview entrepreneurs and policy makers about the role of the diaspora in Kosovo's nascent development. As a new born country which declared independence in 2008, it faces numerous economic and social challenges. Part of the policy approach is to engage the diaspora to enhance development. Nick will be building on this visit with trips to Bosnia and Montenegro, and will thus be comparing the policy approaches and the impact of these approaches across the 3 countries.