What the Data Tells Us About Immigrant Executives in the U.S.

Report Author: 
Sami Mahroum and Rashid Ansari
Original Date of Publication: 
2017 Nov

Google's Sergey Brin and Tesla's Elon Musk provide just two modern examples of well-known immigrant CEOs; however, despite the long history of immigrant contributions to American business, little research has been done to better understand the role of immigrant leadership in corporate America. “What the Data Tells Us About Immigrant Executives in the U.S,” published in the Harvard Business Review, tries to fill this gap by examining the contributions of immigrant executives – an important research task because, as the authors note, 60 percent of American companies are facing leadership talent shortages that are impeding their performance. Using data obtained from the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, the authors employ name-matching techniques to help identify the ethnic identity of individual corporate executives of Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern descent. The authors then examine the educational backgrounds of the executives, classifying those who obtained their first degree outside the U.S. as immigrants. Study results reveal that more immigrants tend to be in possession of higher educational degrees than their non-immigrant counterparts and the healthcare and IT sectors saw the highest concentrations of foreign-trained executives. The authors also found that 42 percent of executives educated in the Caribbean worked in the health sector and 45 percent of executives with degreesfrom the Middle East worked in IT. The article asserts that restrictive U.S. immigration policy is only exacerbating the leadership talent shortage by driving potential immigrant business leaders away from the U.S. (Jonathan Eizyk for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)

Download now or view online



Mahroum, S., & Ansari, R. (2017). What the Data Tells Us About Immigrant Executives in the U.S. (p. 5). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/11/what-the-data-tells-us-about-immigrant-executives-in-the-u-s

Source Organization: