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Conflicts over knowledge transfer across the border: Korean international students and the conversion of cultural capital

Global Networks

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract It is common knowledge that international students are a major conduit of international knowledge transfer and that they become transnational managerial elites and highly skilled migrants. However, few studies show how this transfer occurs. Moreover, people often assume that knowledge transfer is a smooth process. Drawing on in‐depth interviews of former and current Korean international students and non‐migrant Koreans in the United States and South Korea, my study shows that knowledge transfer can, in fact, be highly conflictual. I argue that conflicts in the country of origin between international students (the transferors) and non‐migrants (the recipients) mediate knowledge transfer. I see the conflicts as struggles over the conversion of cultural capital from the Global North into local power and wealth, which reworks Bourdieu's theory of cultural capital for transnational social fields. In so doing, I develop a framework that links knowledge transfer and transnational social reproduction. - 'Global Networks, EarlyView. '