Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Brain Circulators in the “New Order” Indonesia

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Amaltas, Lower Ground Floor

In the mid-2000s AnnaLee Saxenian published her study on Silicon Valley foreign-born engineers and entrepreneurs and discovered a phenomenon she termed “brain circulation,” describing how these engineers transferred knowledge, skills, and experience they gained overseas to their home countries and thus brought their “brains” back to their homelands while maintaining ties to the U.S. (Saxenian 2015). The New Order Indonesia government under President Suharto (1996-1998) had a popular Minister of Research and Technology named B.J. Habibie. Dubbed as Indonesia’s “Technology Czar,” he was arguably Indonesia’s most famous brain circulator, a German-trained aerospace engineer who came home and with Suharto’s full patronage and support built an aerospace industry in Indonesia. Habibie was also tasked to develop other nine strategic industries in the country. In order to develop many skilled workers to fill the various positions in his ten industries, Habibie’s Ministry and his famed technological institution called the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology conceived and organized a scholarship program to recruit and train thousands of Indonesia’s technical professionals. This paper traces the origins, highlights the rationale and the details of the scholarship program, and evaluates both of its intended and unintended consequences for Indonesia’s sociotechnical future.

Anto Mohsin

Northwestern University in Qatar, Qatar


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4 - Brain Circulators in the “New Order” Indonesia

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