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Herding cats? Management and university performance


  • McCormack, John
  • Propper, Carol
  • Smith, Sarah L.


Using a tried and tested measure of management practices which has been shown to predict firm performance, we survey nearly 250 departments across 100+ UK universities. We find large differences in management scores across universities and that departments in older, research-intensive universities score higher than departments in newer, more teaching-oriented universities. We also find that management matters in universities. The scores, particularly with respect to provision of incentives for staff recruitment, retention and promotion, are correlated with both teaching and research performance conditional on resources and past performance. Moreover, this relationship holds for all universities, not just research-intensive ones.

Suggested Citation

  • McCormack, John & Propper, Carol & Smith, Sarah L., 2013. "Herding cats? Management and university performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 9560, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9560

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
    3. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
    4. Lu, Wen-Min, 2012. "Intellectual capital and university performance in Taiwan," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 1081-1089.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Antoinette Schoar, 2003. "Managing with Style: The Effect of Managers on Firm Policies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1169-1208.
    6. Goodall, Amanda H., 2009. "Highly cited leaders and the performance of research universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1079-1092, September.
    7. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2006. "Distance to Frontier, Selection, and Economic Growth," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 37-74, March.
    8. Nicholas Bloom & Carol Propper & Stephan Seiler & John Van Reenen, 2015. "The Impact of Competition on Management Quality: Evidence from Public Hospitals," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 457-489.
    9. Sandra E. Black & Lisa M. Lynch, 2001. "How To Compete: The Impact Of Workplace Practices And Information Technology On Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 434-445, August.
    10. E Bayraktar & E Tatoglu & S Zaim, 2013. "Measuring the relative efficiency of quality management practices in Turkish public and private universities," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 64(12), pages 1810-1830, December.
    11. Amanda H Goodall, 2005. "Should Research Universities be Led by Top Researchers? Part 1: Are they?," HEW 0506003, EconWPA.
    12. Casu, B. & Thanassoulis, E., 2006. "Evaluating cost efficiency in central administrative services in UK universities," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 417-426, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lenton, Pamela, 2015. "Determining student satisfaction: An economic analysis of the National Student Survey," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 118-127.
    2. Nicholas Bloom & Renata Lemos & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2015. "Does Management Matter in schools?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(584), pages 647-674, May.
    3. Victor Lavy & Adi Boiko, 2017. "Management Quality in Public Education: Superintendent Value-Added, Student Outcomes and Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 24028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Arimoto, Yutaka & Kurata, Masamitsu, 2017. "Adoption of Management Practices in the Public Sector of Bangladesh," Discussion Paper Series 654, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    5. Jacqmin, Julien & Lefebvre, Mathieu, 2016. "Does sector-specific experience matter? The case of European higher education ministers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(5), pages 987-998.
    6. Broström, Anders, 2018. "Academic breeding grounds: Home department conditions and early career performance of academic researchers," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 465, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    7. Guerrero, Maribel & Cunningham, James A. & Urbano, David, 2015. "Economic impact of entrepreneurial universities’ activities: An exploratory study of the United Kingdom," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 748-764.
    8. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:4:p:546-564 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Catherine Buffington & Lucia Foster & Ron Jarmin & Scott Ohlmacher, 2016. "The Management and Organizational Practices Survey (MOPS): An Overview," Working Papers 16-28, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    10. Mario BENASSI & Matteo LANDONI & Francesco RENTOCCHINI, 2017. "University Management Practices and Academic Spin-offs," Departmental Working Papers 2017-11, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    11. Goodall, Amanda H. & McDowell, John M. & Singell, Larry D., 2014. "Leadership and the Research Productivity of University Departments," IZA Discussion Papers 7903, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    management practices; performance; universities;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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