Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 77 ›› Issue (8): 2113-2130.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202208018

• Geopolitics andWorld Geography • Previous Articles    

The geographical structure and influencing factors of talent mobility:The resume analysis of highly cited Chinese scientists

SUN Kang1,2(), SI Yuefang1,2()   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2021-07-14 Revised:2022-04-07 Online:2022-08-25 Published:2022-10-12
  • Contact: SI Yuefang;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871110)


As an important innovation resource, top world talents play a vital role in promoting regional innovation and competitiveness. Among all kinds of top world talents, highly cited scientists, whose achievements are highly original and subversive, form a crucial scientific and technological force determining the direction of future scientific development. The geographical structure and influencing factors of their immigration are important and are being investigated within the field of geography. According to previous studies, different population types have different location choices. Despite existing research on the mobility of the general labor force, the question of which model is suitable for the movement of highly cited scientists has not yet been settled. This paper integrates the world city theory into population mobility studies and investigates the mobility of highly cited Chinese scientists. We compiled the list of highly cited Chinese scientists based on the 2014-2015 global list of highly cited scientists on the Web of Science as well as a background and resume information search. We proceeded with the research in the following ways: We firstly constructed a composite talent migration theory on the basis of the population migration theory in order to explore which factors affect scientists' location choice in their working periods; we secondly described their mobility characteristics during their education and working periods, including a detailed analysis of domestic and transnational migration during the working period; we thirdly applied the Heckman two-stage selection model to explore the applicability of compound population migration theory in high-end talent flow; and we finally conducted a classification study from the perspective of domestic/transnational mobility of talents and used the Probit regression model to explore the influencing factors of scientists' willingness to return to China or go abroad along with the factors that influence scientists' domestic mobility. The main conclusions can be drawn as follows: (1) The talent flow trajectory of highly cited Chinese scientists showed that the target places of scientists are mainly core cities (measured by degree centrality) at home and abroad. (2) The transnational flow direction of highly cited Chinese scientists in the working stage is mainly from American cities to Chinese cities. (3) The composite population migration model has an obvious role in explaining the location selection of highly cited Chinese scientists in their working stage. Scientists mainly choose to move to core cities and their willingness to move is largely affected by their individual characteristics. (4) The factors influencing the choice of movement of highly cited Chinese scientists at home and abroad are different. The domestic mobility of scientists is limited by geographical distance, and highly cited Chinese scientists' transnational movement is mainly affected by the pull of the destination cities. We demonstrated that the composite population migration model was more suitable for the study of talents' movement inside the region (globally or within a country), while the push-pull model was more suitable for transnational movement.

Key words: highly cited Chinese scientists, resume analysis, talent mobility, Heckman model