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Talents and Businesses in Greece: An uneasy symbiosis?

30 Sep 2019

WRITTEN BY Vlachos Pavlos
Associate Professor of Marketing


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brain drain

How are businesses perceived by our country's talents and what are the corresponding perceptions of Greeks who left and are working abroad?

Read more about the reseach conducted by our own Dr. Pavlos Vlachos and Dr. Kostas Tasoulis along with Dr. Theriou Georgios and Dr. Christos Cabolis.
Download the reseach here





  • Purpose: In this study, we examine the relationship between talents, business organisations and the brain drain. Specifically, we examine the perceptions of talented Greeks regarding small/medium (SMEs) and large organisations in Greece. Then, we compare the perceptions of local talented Greeks (i.e. living in Greece) with talented Greek migrants (i.e. residing outside Greece), commonly referred to as the “brain drain” human capital or the “new Greek diaspora”. Results carry practical implications for business leaders, managers and HR executives in organisations in Greece, employer and employee associations, as well as policy makers.


  • Theoretical Framework: The study draws from an established model of social psychology, the Stereotype Content Model. This model captures how people evaluate and stereotype entities (e.g. other people, professions, countries, firms) across two dimensions: warmth and competence. In this study specifically, local and migrant talented Greeks were requested to evaluate organisations on their warmth (i.e. positive or negative intentions) towards the society and human resources, and their competence to achieve plans and goals.


  • Sample: Analysis is based on a sample of 2.331 Greek talents, who are mostly between 18-45 years old and educated (more than 85% are at least degree holders), hence referred to as talents. Within this talent sample, 1.210 live in Greece and 1.121 reside across 20 countries (largely in UK and Germany). Given the sizeable amount of talented Greek migrants participating in the study, to our knowledge, this is one of the largest empirical studies conducted on the topic. Data collection took place in in June-September 2018.



7 Key findings


  • Living and working is somewhat better abroad: Talented Greek migrants are more satisfied in the quality of their lives (4.90, all results reported in a 1-7 scale) compared to local Greeks (4.52), and even more so in their working lives (5.56 vs 4.69). Local talents are not dissatisfied at work, though Greek migrants experience of working abroad is significantly better.


  • Local talents view SMEs in Greece with contempt and sympathy: Local Greeks rate SMEs in Greece slightly below average in terms of their capabilities to achieve goals (3.78), and with neutral intentions towards the society and human resources (4.04). This suggests that SMEs are rather viewed with contempt, or pity and sympathy.


  • Local talents say large firms in Greece are capable but not caring: Large firms in Greece are perceived as more capable (5.06) than SMEs but with worse intentions towards their human resources (3,87) and the society (3.26). This suggests that local talents view large firms somewhat enviously, capable yet lacking alignment with their interests, more as foes than allies.


  • Talented Greek migrants admire firms abroad, contempt large firms in Greece: Talented Greeks residing abroad perceive large businesses in Greece much more negatively compared to local talents. This is in terms of their abilities to achieve goals (3.74) but especially in terms of their intentions towards the society and their employees (2.96). In addition, they seem to admire organisations in their country of residence, both in terms of capabilities (5.84) and intentions towards human resources (5.10). Evidently, the new Greek diaspora perceives a sharp contrast in the competence and warmth of firms in Greece vs abroad.


  • Brain Drain” stronger than “Brain Gain”: Given the above results, it is not surprising that the emigration of local Greek talents is more likely than the repatriation of talented Greek migrants. The probability of emigrating abroad for local Greeks is 28% and 42%, in the next 12 months and 3-5 years, respectively. In the opposite direction, the probability of repatriation of talented Greek migrants is 14% and 29% in the same time periods. This suggests that the brain drain phenomenon will persist at least in the short-medium term. Containing the local talent pool may be an equally, if not more, pressing issue than repatriating the new Greek diaspora.


  • Causes of migration: few jobs, little development, low earnings, corruption: The decision to emigrate is very much related to work issues an extends beyond the issue of earnings. The top three causes of migration abroad are the few opportunities for work and career development in Greece (34%), low financial earnings (30%), corruption and nepotism (27%). Those who are more likely to migrate from Greece in the future are younger individuals, not satisfied at work and holding negative views of the capabilities of firms in Greece. In the opposite direction, factors that enhance the likelihood of repatriation included higher education, many years of residence abroad, and positive stereotypes about the warmth of large businesses in Greece.


  • Interesting jobs and earnings are top priorities; security, positive culture, work-life balance also matter: The key job search priorities of all Greek talents considered in this study, regardless of country of residence, are interesting jobs and financial earnings. Local talents place more emphasis on the financial stability of the business and on the pleasant working environment. Greek migrants place greater importance on work-life balance and the opportunity to grow and develop their professional skills


 Lina Giannarou and Η ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ  summarize the reseach in this article