Tuesday, March 06, 2012

China's Talent Export Strategy

If you want to understand how the next wave of globalization works, follow China. China exports goods, financial capital, and even talent in order fuel domestic growth. Reciprocity reigns supreme.

I have written about China's talent export strategy a number of times. You can find a primer here. A brief description of how this talent economy works can be found here. Now, I'll apply that construct to Japan:

One such explorer is Heiji Kobayashi, a 41-year-old semiconductor engineer, whose career hit a dead end when his employer, Mitsubishi Electric, spun off its memory-chip business a few years ago. With job prospects bleak in Japan, he turned to Taiwan’s booming chip industry, where he became a popular commodity.

Last month, he began a new job overseeing the design of factory production lines at Powerchip Semiconductor, a memory-chip maker in this suburban city just south of Taipei. As a deputy director, he gets stock options (rare in Japan) and a secretary, and he is climbing the top rungs of management at the company, which has 6,500 employees.

“My skills are in far higher demand here,” said Mr. Kobayashi, who once worked in Taiwan for Mitsubishi Electric. Such employment mobility was once unthinkable in highly insular Japan, where until recently, workers virtually married into their company and kept their jobs for life, and the strength of its electronics industry was a source of national pride.

Japan is notoriously xenophobic. The country desperately needs an infusion of immigrants. That seems unlikely. What's an aging, shrinking country to do? Japanese talent going abroad is an act of desperation, not a well thought out policy. Japan could leverage its talent exports as China is doing. But wealthy, established countries aren't innovative. Emerging economies are. Japan and the United States are poised to take a backseat in this next round of globalization, the talent economy.

No comments: