Cover of The Gift of Global Talent by William R. Kerr
The Gift of Global Talent
How Migration Shapes Business, Economy & Society
William R. Kerr


256 pages.
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Hardcover now $17.50 (50% off)
Paperback now $13.00 (50% off)

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503605022
Paperback ISBN: 9781503628984
Ebook ISBN: 9781503607361

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Excerpts and More

Silver in International Business / Globalization in the 2019 Axiom Business Book Awards.

The global race for talent is on, with countries and businesses competing for the best and brightest. Talented individuals migrate much more frequently than the general population, and the United States has received exceptional inflows of human capital. This foreign talent has transformed U.S. science and engineering, reshaped the economy, and influenced society at large. But America is bogged down in thorny debates on immigration policy, and the world around the United States is rapidly catching up, especially China and India. The future is quite uncertain, and the global talent puzzle deserves close examination.

To do this, William R. Kerr uniquely combines insights and lessons from business practice, government policy, and individual decision making. Examining popular ideas that have taken hold and synthesizing rigorous research across fields such as entrepreneurship and innovation, regional advantage, and economic policy, Kerr gives voice to data and ideas that should drive the next wave of policy and business practice.

The Gift of Global Talent deftly transports readers from joyous celebrations at the Nobel Prize ceremony to angry airport protests against the Trump administration's travel ban. It explores why talented migration drives the knowledge economy, describes how universities and firms govern skilled admissions, explains the controversies of the H-1B visa used by firms like Google and Apple, and discusses the economic inequalities and superstar firms that global talent flows produce. The United States has been the steward of a global gift, and this book explains the huge leadership decision it now faces and how it can become even more competitive for attracting tomorrow's talent.

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About the author

William R. Kerr is Professor at Harvard Business School and Co-Director of the school's Managing the Future of Work initiative. A recipient of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship, he works with companies and governments worldwide on accessing and leveraging global talent for innovation and growth.

"This is a clear-eyed exposition of how talent moves around the world and why so much lands in the United States. Chock-full of compelling data, this book shows that the economic stakes in today's over-heated immigration debate couldn't be higher. This is a must-read for policy makers."

—Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Arizona

"This book is brilliant, lucid, and timely. William Kerr understands the value of talent, and demonstrates a wealth of it himself in his exploration of why and how smart people migrate and cluster. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand this crucial topic."

—Robert Guest, Foreign Editor of The Economist, and author of Borderless Economics

"America's small businesses are under pressure when it comes to accessing the skilled workers they need to compete. William Kerr brilliantly illuminates a framework for the critical conversation that we need to have if we want small businesses to continue to drive our nation's economic success."

—Karen G. Mills, Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Cabinet Member under President Obama

"If immigration is to provide sizable economic gains to a receiving country, the place to look is high-skill. William Kerr gives a comprehensive and objective summary of what we know about its economic impact. The book is an invaluable resource."

—George J. Borjas, Harvard Kennedy School, and author of We Wanted Workers

"The Gift of Global Talent offers key insights on how immigrant entrepreneurs spur U.S. economic growth, create American jobs, and help to further technological and scientific advancement in the U.S. It is an important addition to our national dialogue on immigration and should be required reading for policymakers."

—Bobby Franklin, President and CEO, National Venture Capital Association

"Its explanation of the role of high-skilled immigration and the reforms that are needed to maintain US competitiveness make this one of the most important books on policy of our time. As Kerr explains, knowledge and talent are now the world's most important resources."

—Vivek Wadhwa, Carnegie Mellon University, author, The Driver in the Driverless Car

"By showing how talent shapes economies and impacts organizations, Kerr has created a compelling, essential book for the C-suite, especially CHROs. In the competitive search for diversity and talent, companies will need to understand talent clusters and flow. This book provides valuable context as they develop their strategies."

—Scott Rutherford, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

"The Gift of Global Talent crystalizes how much the American economy benefits from skilled foreign workers. For American innovation to thrive in the 21st century, we must attract the best minds out there, and Kerr's excellent book teaches us how to do just that."

—Edward Glaeser, Harvard University and author, Triumph of the City

"If you want to understand why Boston and Silicon Valley have created such vibrant ecosystems, read this book! All of the best and brightest don't work in the U.S., and we should do everything we can to attract and keep that talent. This is the fuel for future generations of startups."

—Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder and CTO, HubSpot

"As advanced technologies and artificial intelligence reshape business and the future of work, access to great and digitally expert talent is critical. Kerr's powerful book describes how leading companies and countries can attract and leverage this highly mobile and connected professional population for the broader benefit of their organizations and societies."

—Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone Group

"Kerr's pioneering research on talent coalesces in this essential new book. Talent clusters and an openness to them determine the wealth of cities, nations, and the global economy. A must-read for CEOs, policy makers, and mayors, this is the antidote to the populism threatening the world."

—Richard Florida, University of Toronto, Editor-at-Large, CityLab, The Atlantic and author of The Rise of the Creative Class

"Kerr's work, based on solid empirical evidence and free of political bias, is easily understandable as he navigates economic theory and public policy. Readers interested in business, economics, sociology, or political science will enjoy this balanced perspective on what Kerr calls the 'defining issue for our time.' Highly recommended."––R. Dupont, CHOICE

"You've probably heard the idea that data, not oil, is the most valuable resource of the 21st century. If you read The Gift of Global Talent, and I think you should, you might conclude that skills are our most precious resource.As [the book] amply documents, the U.S. continues to put up barriers that prevent the most skilled and educated individuals from working (and studying) in the U.S."

—Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed

"An especially valuable aspect of [Kerr's] research is the fact that he does indeed effectively connect the academic, analytical approach to the book's subject matter with business- and practice-oriented conclusions, including some very interesting predictions and policy recommendations. In addition, Kerr relies on his family experience (p. 174). He thus has a deep personal knowledge of the subject matter and offers an important human perspective in regard to the issue of brain drain as well as migration in general."

—Andrei V. Korobkov, Contemporary Sociology