“Investigating the factors affecting brain drain in Greece: looking beyond the obvious”

Published date30 April 2020
Date30 April 2020
AuthorAntonios Panagiotakopoulos
Investigating the factors affecting
brain drain in Greece: looking
beyond the obvious
Antonios Panagiotakopoulos
University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Purpose The study explores the reasons why talented people leave Greeceand go abroad using a qualitative
approach to data collection in order to get a deep understanding on the actual reasonsof brain drain in Greece,
which affects the sustainability of domestic businesses and the overall economic development of the country.
Design/methodology/approach A qualitative approach was adopted consisting of 80 interviews with
business and IT professionals,healthcare professionals and academics of various disciplines that live and work
in the United Kingdom, Germany, United States and Australia. Data were collected over a three-year period
(May 2015May 2018).
Findings The results showed that the vast majority of respondents decided to leave their home country due
to the prevalent cultural mindset of most Greek citizens, government policymakers and employers in Greece. In
particular, 65% of respondents decided to live and work abroad due to the deep crisis of social values in the
country and the high political corruption, while just 35% pointed to purely financial and other work-related
reasons (e.g. low salaries, poor working conditions, no employment prospects, lack of job security) as the key
ones for leaving the country. Essentially, the respondents argued that the individualist cultural values that
have been predominant in the Greek society for years now have become evident in political action causing
several problems such as social injustice and poverty.
Research limitations/implications The findings have important implications both for those who hold
governmental posts and the remaining citizens of Greece. Both government officials and citizens should re-
examine their roles, values and ideals. The blame for the extensive brain drain in the country cannot be put only
on the political parties that ruled the country during the last decades; the people who elected them are also
responsible. The country seems to remain trapped in a crisis of social values that parents and the formal
education system in Greece have cultivated for years now. In that respect, formal education in the country
should be transformed radically in order to act as animportant agency inculcating the new generations with a
sense of duty in shaping a democratic political culture that emphasizes equality and condemns egalitarian
Originality/value The scant evidence around this topic is based on quantitative research that fails to
explore in much depth the reasons of brain drain in the country. Previous studies revealed thatthe phenomenon
of brain drain in Greece has been predominantly caused by the poor financial performance of the country
during the last decade. This has been further supported by the claims of severalpolicymakers who argue that
the Greek crisis has been a fiscal one. However, the present study sheds new light and unmasks the root cause
of brain drain in Greece stressing that the country essentially faces a crisis of values and a corrupted civic
Keywords Greece, Sustainability, Brain drain
Paper type Research paper
The term brain drainappears to have gained wide usage in the late 1960s when growth in
the migration of well-educated personnel from developing to developed countries accelerated.
Nowadays, brain drain still remains a hotly debated issue that features high in the political
agenda of many countries around the world. Brain drain is a phenomenon in which people of a
high level of skills, qualifications and competence leave their countries and emigrate in search
of a better standard of living and quality of life, which may involve higher salaries, access to
advanced technology and more stable political conditions. Brain drain, also known as human
capital flight, is a serious issue in many parts of the world, and it is very common in
developing nations, as skilled professionals seek out work abroad rather than returning to
work in their home country (Beine et al., 2008).
affecting brain
drain in Greece
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 1 October 2019
Revised 8 March 2020
Accepted 24 March 2020
World Journal of
Entrepreneurship, Management
and Sustainable Development
Vol. 16 No. 3, 2020
pp. 207-218
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI10.1 108/WJEMSD-10-2019-0076

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