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Empirical observations on New Public Management to increase efficiency in public research--Boon or bane?


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  • Schubert, Torben


New Public Management (NPM) was the catch phrase of the reforms in the public research and higher education sector for the last decades. The postulated effect of the NPM reforms is increased efficiency in governmental resource spending on the public higher education and research institutions. Though backed by theoretical considerations, this hypothesis has hardly been tested empirically. Using a unique dataset of German research units, this paper deals with the influence that NPM mechanisms have on research performance. Controlling for different university mission, it can be shown that both greater internal hierarchy (especially "strong presidents") as well as greater operative flexibility for the researchers themselves increase research performance. Some of the variables, including the presence of research councils, have a positive effect on research efficiency under some definitions of research output. On the other hand, the introduction of resource accounting systems has a negative impact. All in all, we conclude that the public science sector reforms implemented in most of the Western economies were heading into the right direction by providing greater performance incentives and increasing allocative efficiency in resource spending. Also we provide some ideas of how NPM may be combined in order to construct a sensible governance system. We conclude that the mechanisms should be selected based on the mission of the university.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
Issue (Month): 8 (October)
Pages: 1225-1234

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:38:y:2009:i:8:p:1225-1234

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Keywords: New Public Management Universities Research Efficiency;


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Cited by:
  1. Kroll, Henning & Schubert, Torben, 2014. "On universities' long-term effects on regional value creation and unemployment: The case of Germany," Working Papers "Firms and Region" R1/2014, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
  2. Maria Olivares & Heike Wetzel, 2011. "Competing in the Higher Education Market: Empirical Evidence for Economies of Scale and Scope in German Higher Education Institutions," Working Paper Series in Economics 223, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  3. Musselin, Christine, 2013. "How peer review empowers the academic profession and university managers: Changes in relationships between the state, universities and the professoriate," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 1165-1173.
  4. Robin, Stéphane & Schubert, Torben, 2010. "Cooperation with public research institutions and success in innovation: Evidence from France and Germany," Discussion Papers "Innovation Systems and Policy Analysis" 24, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
  5. Beerkens, Maarja, 2013. "Facts and fads in academic research management: The effect of management practices on research productivity in Australia," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1679-1693.
  6. Brandt, Tasso & Schubert, Torben, 2012. "Is the University Model an Organizational Necessity? Scale and Agglomeration Effects in Science," CIRCLE Electronic Working Papers, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy 2012/1, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.


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