Will Restricted U.S. Immigration Drive Business Operations Abroad?

We asked our panel of strategy experts to tell us how strongly they agree with this statement:

Restrictions on skilled immigration will cause U.S. firms to shift more operations overseas.


Raw Responses

Responses weighted by panelists’ level of confidence

Panelist Vote Confidence Comments Profile & Vote History
Holden, Richard

Richard Holden

University of New South Wales
Strongly Agree 10 “Skilled immigration — combined with sophisticated capital markets — has been at the heart of American dominance in the new economy. It is also vital in engineering and other fields that could move offshore.” Profile / Vote History
Nalebuff, Barry

Barry Nalebuff

Yale University
Agree 8 “Less skilled immigration will make it harder to hire skilled workers in the U.S., which leads to more being hired outside the U.S. That might be done by non-U.S. firms who end up losing out. Take out ‘U.S.,’ and the answer is clear.” Profile / Vote History
Greenstein, Shane

Shane Greenstein

Harvard University
Strongly Agree 9 “Restrictions on skilled immigration HAVE ALREADY led firms to move some operations to other countries. More restrictions will lead to more moves.” Profile / Vote History
McAfee, R. Preston

R. Preston McAfee

Agree 7 “In the tech sector, companies struggle to get more talent and already have large operations in London, Israel, Bangalore, China, and other locations. Substitution is already happening.” Profile / Vote History
Gans, Joshua

Joshua Gans

University of Toronto
Strongly Agree 9 “It’s already happening to the benefit of Canada.” Profile / Vote History
Brynjolfsson, Erik

Erik Brynjolfsson

Strongly Agree 10 “Highly skilled labor is essential for just about every American firm’s success. If it can’t come to them, they go to it.” Profile / Vote History
Tadelis, Steve

Steve Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley
Strongly Agree 10 “Skilled labor, especially in engineering and data science, is scarce. Firms compete vigorously for the best talent, and if restrictions will be imposed, firms will have to build talent pools abroad.” Profile / Vote History
Agarwal, Rajshree

Rajshree Agarwal

University of Maryland
Strongly Agree 10 “This is very consistent with the law of supply and demand in a global market for human capital. And we already see evidence of this phenomenon in U.S. firm operations across the Canadian border.” Profile / Vote History
Roberts, John

John Roberts

Stanford University
Agree 8 “The complication is Trump’s tariffs. Otherwise, it is virtual certainty…” Profile / Vote History
McGahan, Anita

Anita McGahan

University of Toronto
Strongly Agree 7 “Moving overseas as a hedging strategy is happening already.” Profile / Vote History
Sorenson, Olav

Olav Sorenson

Yale University
Agree 5 “If firms cannot get the talent that they need at home, they will need to shift more work abroad. But the upward wage pressure could also lead more U.S. citizens to pursue the jobs in question.” Profile / Vote History
Henderson, Rebecca

Rebecca Henderson

Harvard University
Strongly Agree 9 “In my view, enabling skilled immigration is absolutely critical to long-term U.S. economic growth. The obvious contrast is with Japan, which is facing a major demographic crisis.” Profile / Vote History
Van Reenen, John

John Van Reenen

Agree 6 “Restrictions will certainly hurt U.S. firms in terms of their productivity and innovation (which will therefore harm American wages). The shifting operations effect is less important than this.” Profile / Vote History
Levinthal, Daniel

Daniel Levinthal

University of Pennsylvania
Agree 7 “I would think this effect would be focused on R&D/development activities as this effect won’t seem to impact the already strong forces pushing/keeping manufacturing overseas.” Profile / Vote History
Simcoe, Timothy

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University
Disagree 5 “Literature says skilled immigrants boost U.S. firms’ foreign investment, so the relationship likely goes the other way. Without skills, however, no reason to think this implies more domestic investment.” Profile / Vote History
Arora, Ashish

Ashish Arora

Duke University
Disagree 5 “In software outsourcing, H-1B visa holders were important complements to offshore work. Broadly, offshoring and immigration are likely to be complements.” Profile / Vote History
Lyon, Tom

Tom Lyon

University of Michigan
Agree 6 “I suspect the larger effect will be to simply make U.S. firms less competitive, but we will see some offshoring among firms facing skills shortages here in the U.S.” Profile / Vote History
Feldman, Maryann

Maryann Feldman

University of North Carolina
Strongly Agree 8 Profile / Vote History
Cassiman, Bruno

Bruno Cassiman

University of Navarra
Agree 8 “The measure would reinforce the trend of increasing R&D investments outside the U.S. and Europe by companies headquartered in these regions.” Profile / Vote History
Hochberg, Yael

Yael Hochberg

Rice University
Agree 8 “Restricting skilled immigration will lead to high-value R&D and technical work being shifted to countries where the skilled talent exists.” Profile / Vote History
Schilling, Melissa

Melissa Schilling

New York University
Agree 10 “It will definitely increase labor costs and create skilled labor scarcity in some industries. For some firms, the efficient option will be to create (or expand) operations outside of the U.S.” Profile / Vote History
Rosenkopf, Lori

Lori Rosenkopf

University of Pennsylvania
Agree 6 Profile / Vote History
Brown, Jennifer

Jennifer Brown

University of Utah
Neither Agree nor Disagree 7 “This may be true for tech and (some) engineering jobs, but organizations can’t readily relocate many high-skill, user-facing professionals, such as doctors, nurses, professors, etc. Some jobs are simply not mobile.” Profile / Vote History
Chatterji, Aaron

Aaron Chatterji

Duke University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Gino, Francesca

Francesca Gino

Harvard University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Eisenhardt, Kathleen

Kathleen Eisenhardt

Stanford University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Shaw, Kathryn

Kathryn Shaw

Stanford University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History
Busse, Meghan

Meghan Busse

Northwestern University
Did Not Answer Profile / Vote History

1 Comment On: Will Restricted U.S. Immigration Drive Business Operations Abroad?

  • Dominic Shum | November 27, 2018

    Yes it should.

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