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Skills Mapping Through Big Data: A case study of Armenian diaspora in the United States of America and France

GCM Objectives


2019 - 2021

Type of practice:

Research Study

Geographic Scope



Sub Regions:


Armenia has one of the largest and oldest diasporas in the world with an estimated 8-10 million persons of Armenian descent living outside of the country. While several studies have been carried out on the Armenian diaspora, both generally and within specific countries of destination, none have focused specifically on identifying the skills and professional networks of the Armenian diaspora; this is what makes IOM’s current project so unique and valuable for diaspora engagement in the social and economic development of Armenia. The Armenian diaspora has been a driving force for the country’s economic survival and development over the past few decades, primarily through the transfer of remittances and philanthropic projects. However, relations with the government have often been weak or strained due to a limited capacity to communicate and meaningfully engage with diaspora members. Through the project “Enhancing Development through Diaspora Engagement in Armenia”, funded by the IOM Development Fund, IOM aims to build the capacity of the Armenian Government to engage the Armenian diaspora and leverage their skills, talents, and energies to support the country’s sustainable development plans.


Main Implementer:

International Organization for Migration (IOM)


NamSor SAS

Benefit and Impact

Through innovative methods using big data, including analyses of web traffic and onomastic of public databases, IOM and its partners have been able to better map concentrations of the Armenian diaspora worldwide , and understand the professional networks of the diaspora. Through analysis of the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) database of researchers, for example, the project has identified 26,945 scientists and researchers of Armenian origin living outside of Armenia, with many engaged in fields of importance to Armenia’s development, such as health, the social sciences and natural sciences.
The tangible benefits of this research can already be seen, as based on mapping results IOM was able to identify relevant diaspora professionals and coordinate videoconferences between officials within the Ministry of Health and Armenian diaspora medical professionals in New York and Paris who had been treating cases of COVID-19. Through the videoconferences, these medical professionals were able to provide Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia with key insights and information to support Armenia’s own response to the pandemic and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Key Lessons

Diversity and dissemination of the Armenian diaspora was one of the challenges, making impossible to include all major diaspora communities. As measure to overcome this challenge the focus was concentrated into two main Armenian diaspora communities (Armenian diaspora communities in the United States and France).
Though the onomastic research has given tangible results, it was conducted based on 2 major databases – ORCID and ZoomInfo, meanwhile as a lessons learned for the next time, more databases should be considered for onomastic research and for overall diaspora mapping, letting have more data and more clear vision on professional diasporas skills, knowledge and opportunities.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

While ad hoc engagements, such as invitation of diaspora specialists by certain institutions or by diaspora specialist’s own initiative can bring benefits, a systematic approach to integrate diaspora skills and networks into development will reap far greater benefits. Governments should be encouraged to build their Communication and Outreach Strategies on diaspora mapping results, which will let them be able to more effectively target their communications to the diaspora to create meaningful relations and opportunities for collaboration.

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.


Onomastic research tool has been applied for Armenian diaspora mapping exercise. The Armenian diaspora professional mapping has been done with the use of big data, which is innovative approach for such mapping exercises.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Date submitted:

07 February 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.