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Global Flows of Foreign Talent: Identity Anxieties in Singapore's Ethnoscapes

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Globalization poses new problems, risks and uncertainties. Indeed as I have pointed out in the introductory chapter, globalization has become something like a “problem space” where governments persist to assemble and reassemble resources to experiment with globalization, performed with a calculated rationality what I call tactical globalization in this book. Given the unpredictability of the success of experiments, and also the vagaries of globalization, calculations, however, are at best only calculations. They can fail and/or result in unintended consequences as I have argued.

This chapter focuses on another form of experimentation, associated with a neo-liberal instrumental logic of boosting its stock of human capital to propel a knowledge-driven economy. Called the “Foreign Talent” policy, Singapore has made generous provisions in the form of incentives (such as the expediency of employment pass applications, personalized employment pass which allows foreign professionals to stay in Singapore for up to six months while between jobs, subsidized state accommodation, easing previous restrictions on foreign husbands, dependants and etc) to attract highly skilled and qualified people to inject “skill”, “talent” and “creativity” to Singapore's economy (Yeoh & Huang, 2004). Mention needs to be made here though that Singapore is not the only country that has embarked on an aggressive drive to recruit foreign talent; many countries (e. g. the U. S, U. K., Australia and even Hong Kong and China) have also entered the global war for talent (see Brown & Tannock, 2009). The motivation is simple: many government leaders, including Singapore, recognize that its economic trajectory to continued prosperity lies not only in securing a stake in the global economy but also having a concentrated pool of talented and highly skilled workers and students to drive national economic growth and productivity (Tannock, 2009).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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