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The role of foreign scientific foundations’ role in the cross-border mobility of Russian academics

Alexander Chepurenko (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia And; Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 6 July 2015




The purpose of this paper is to explain the current role of foreign foundations in the cross-border mobility of Russian elite scientists.


The methodology is based on a combination of a quantitative survey (December 2004-February 2005) of former Russian Humboldtians and qualitative research (expert interviews in 2005 and in 2012, respectively) of Russian alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation (Germany).


For Russian elite researchers participating in academic mobility, in 2000s it is rather cross-border mobility’ brain circulation’ rather than “brain drain” a dominant form of academic mobility typical. Even in 2000s, western foundations still played a significant while twofold role – promoting emigration of for a small part of Russian elite researchers, on the one hand, while and getting access to top-level labs, etc. and to international academic chains of excellence for the majority of them, on the other. Coming back to the home country, affiliation with foreign foundations reduces the dependence of Russian elite researchers on hierarchical structures within the national state science system and promotes project teams and network forms of interaction their career. However, Russian scientists dependence on foreign funding affect both the scope of research and their academic status (mostly – second-level positions within research projects, etc.). Among the reasons to for leave leaving Russia it is primarily the desire to remain have closer access to their academic community and the equipment to do on the top level in research. The paper formulates some measures to foster incentives to stay in Russia and respectively to support re-emigration of elite researchers, in form of world class research labs and strengthening the motivation of senior researchers to work in the home country.

Research limitations/implications

Research limitations consist in using of only one of the alumni networks of several western foundations database.


The paper is unique as regards the empirical results; its value consists in their organizational, social and political implications.



The initial project described in the paper was funded by the Moscow Scientific Fund and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Chepurenko, A. (2015), "The role of foreign scientific foundations’ role in the cross-border mobility of Russian academics", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 562-584.



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