China's reverse brain drain: Regaining and retaining talent

Phyllis Tharenou, Pi-Shen Seet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


This review examines why mainland Chinese students who study abroad repatriate to China, how they fare on reentry to China, and whether they reexpatriate. We show that Chinese students are motivated not only by career and economic considerations when deciding to repatriate, but also by social and psychological concerns. They are chiefly pulled home by China's attractions (e.g., career and economic opportunities, family and friends, national cultural identity) and, to a lesser extent, are pushed away from the host country by deterrents (e.g., dissatisfaction with career and economic opportunities, lack of cultural assimilation). They are also pulled to stay in their host country by its attractions (e.g., career opportunities, children's educational opportunities). On return, foreign graduates may suffer negative reactions, including reverse culture shock, poor cross-cultural readjustment, and unmet expectations, and a small but significant minority will reexpatriate. The study concludes with a set of potential research questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-74
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Studies of Management and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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