Modes and Narratives of Mobility and Career Paths among academics (Ph.D. holders) in Africa

Researcher: Måns Fellesson and Paula Mählck
Project established 2011

Responding to the need for increased knowledge on mobility and career paths among skilled researchers (Ph.D. holders) to enhance policy development in fields related to the relation between academia and society (e.g. innovation systems) and the Swedish development cooperation the aim of the project is to comparatively and longitudinally map and analyze modes and rationales behind mobility and career paths/choices among Ph.D. holders in different academic disciplines funded within the frame of the Swedish development cooperation (bilateral research cooperation).

The project has the following principal research questions:

1. Extent and direction of mobility (geographic and sector) over time internationally and nationally. In which areas and at what positions are the Sida funded Ph.D. holders at present? What do individual developments look like in terms of geographical mobility and mobility between sectors from the date of graduation up to present? Could specific patterns of mobility be revealed in terms of gender, age and date of graduation? From a longitudinal perspective, are there differences in mobility between Ph.D. holders with degrees from different periods of time and across different disciplines?

2. Perceptions and individual rationales behind mobility and career choices. How do individual Ph.D. holders reflect on alternatives on mobility and careers paths linked with their academic position/rank? How do they relate these alternatives to conditions in academia and society at large (gender, age, social background, ethnicity, date (time) of graduation)? What are the driving forces behind individual mobility and career choices and to what extent can these be linked with factors relating to referred systematic changes in the higher education and research sector?

The project will contribute to an increased understanding of directions and rationales of mobility and careers among Ph.D.s in a development context from a longitudinal perspective. Specifically, the results of the study will display a variety of directions and rationales that could nuance and enrich academic and policy debate/discussions on academic mobility and career, both geographical (e.g. brain drain, circular migration) and sectoral. The findings of the project are also believed to be highly relevant to the Swedish development cooperation’s support to research, particularly the sandwich model in Ph.D. training (partly designed to tackle the problem of brain drain). Results will inform Sida about the geographic and sectoral mobility outcomes and rationales of career paths of the agency’s long term support to Ph.D. training in Ethiopia. The results will also highlight the importance of applying a comprehensive societal view on investments made in Ph.D. training in developing countries. This means understanding the links between Ph.D. training, mobility and development, not only related to academia but also to other sectors in the society. Finally, the results will also be highly useful for policy making in Ethiopia (government and universities).   

East Africa
Higher education
Internaitonal cooperation
Måns Fellesson
Paula Mählck
Ph.D. holders
brain drain
career paths
circular migration
developing countries
development cooperation
innovation systems
policy development
skilled researchers
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