Transnational mobility and the spaces of knowledge production: a comparison of global patterns, motivations and collaborations in different academic fields
14 Nov 2007
Department of Geography, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
Abstract. Transnational movements of academics shape the production and dissemination of knowledge and thus the geographies of contemporary knowledge economies. In this paper, I investigate the complex relationship between knowledge production and spatial movement by examining three key aspects of academic mobility to Germany in the period 1981 to 2000: first, global patterns of interaction, second, motivations to work in Germany for a limited period of time and, third, resulting publications and collaborations. The study is based on two sets of statistical data and a postal survey involving about 1200 respondents from 90 countries. I argue that the motivations for and outcomes of transnational academic mobility are not only shaped by a great variety of influences that constitute society, academia and the individual but also by varying spatial relations of different research practices, which help to explain typical cultures of academic mobility and collaboration. Drawing upon an actor-network based understanding of both the natural and technical sciences and the arts and humanities, a three-dimensional matrix is developed that conceptualises varying spatial relations of scientific practice and interaction in different fields and at different stages of knowledge production.