Temporary Mobility - A Policy for Academic Career Development
Researcher mobility has received increasing support from policy makers around the world as an instrument to improve the performance of research systems by promoting the diffusion of knowledge, and facilitating knowledge and technology transfer, network creation, and productivity (OECD, 2008). International mobility grants have been a preferred means for governments across the world to facilitate the mobility of their research base (MEXT, 2009). This paper investigates the effect of temporary mobility spells abroad on a researcher’s probability for promotion. Temporary research visits may help to expand existing networks and promote knowledge transfer while at the same time ensuring career stability, identified as the main barrier to mobility in Europe and Japan (Stephan, 2012). Using a dataset of 370 bioscience professors in Japan we identified their average career path and evaluated the role of mobility in Japanese universities. We find that international research visits have a positive effect on promotion and reduce the waiting time for promotion by one year. This provides evidence that these visits also benefit a researcher’s career in the long-term. This positive research visit effect is weaker for researchers who also change jobs. Research visits may therefore present a way for immobile researchers to speed up promotion without the need for job mobility. We also find that research visits are particularly important for inbred researchers, again indicating that visits discourage late-career mobility and increase promotion speed. We further find that, while research visits of tenured staff enhance the career by providing an early chair, postdocs have no lasting effect on career progression. Instead, they may be an indicator for a researcher’s struggle to find a permanent position after the PhD
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