A global engineering and plant construction company located in London, UK, commissioned a study to investigate the future conditions that attract expatriates to move to a city for a new job and to provide them with a high standard of living. The concrete objective of this project was therefore to identify those factors that a company and its environment should offer in order to attract highly qualified and talented people and promote rapid integration into the local environment.
Further partners and clients of the study included one of the world’s largest producers of polyethylene and polypropylene and a series of personnel service providers.
In our comprehensive study, we—a research team consisting of Thomas Duschlbauer, Christiane Zauner and myself—were able to show that in the transition from an industrial to a knowledge-based society the nucleus of competition shifted from natural resources to knowledge and ideas; this means that regions and companies generate their competitive advantage primarily through their ability to mobilize and retain talent over the long term. A prospering innovation eco-system of newer ideas and more advanced technologies leads to increased productivity and thus to economic growth.
We showed in detail what regions and companies in global competition need to do to attract and retain talent and what concrete impact this would have, for example, in Upper Austria, where the commissioning companies have branches.
The competition for the best, we argued, requires more than feverish city marketing or furious recruitment tactics. The key is to recognize the importance and value of human capital for economic growth and to address the values, inclinations, and preferences of bright minds at all levels.
The final book publication was complemented by a discussion of concrete examples from multinational companies such as Google, Apple, Novartis, Borealis, Hewlett Packard and others.
The contract led to follow-up orders, such as a new campus design based on the knowledge that was gained and put into practice.