Dr. Charlotte Mueller

Diaspora Return Visits for Knowledge Transfer and Capacity Development: A Case Study of IOM’s Connecting Diaspora for Development Project in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Somaliland

Year: 2023

Melissa Siegel & Katie Kushminder


Different forms of short-term diaspora return programmes have been used by host- and origin-country governments and international organisations to incentivise and manage diaspora return visits for knowledge transfer and capacity development. Based on data from the ´Connecting Diaspora for Development´ (CD4D) project in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Somaliland, this dissertation examines how diaspora members contribute to knowledge transfer and capacity development at host institutions in their countries of origin as part of such programmes. It proposes a framework for knowledge transfer and capacity development in this context, theorising return visits for knowledge transfer as a distinct type of return visit and adding empirical evidence on them. First, this dissertation distinguishes between three processes (information transmission, knowledge creation and contributions to organisational capacity development) and identifies three levels of capacity development (high, medium and low). The results indicate that information transmission is more common than knowledge creation and organizational capacity development. Second, the study examines factors that enable or inhibit these processes at the individual, group, and contextual levels across the three processes, showing that information transmission is influenced by individual- and group-level factors, knowledge creation mostly depends on group- and contextual-level factors and contributions to capacity development are affected by individual-, group- and contextual-level factors. Third, it also addresses how diaspora members deal with stigma by employing adaptation, signaling, and addressing strategies.

Selected publications by Charlotte Mueller