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  • Author or Editor: Andrea Bonaccorsi x
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Abstract  

We address the issue of differentiation of the profile of universities and offer a set of new indicators based on microdata at the individual level and the application of robust nonparametric efficiency measures. In particular, we use efficiency measures in order to characterize the way in which universities use their inputs (academic and non academic staff, funding) in the effort to position themselves in the space of output (undergraduate teaching, postgraduate education, fundamental research, contract research, third mission), while keeping efficiency under control. The strategic problem of universities is defined as making best use of existing resources in the short run, while enlarging the scope of autonomy in procuring additional resources in the long run. In order to make best use of resources universities are led to increase their specialization and differentiate their offering profile. This happens even if the European institutional landscape does not encourage universities to differentiate.

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Abstract  

Age effects in scientific production are a consolidated stylised fact in the literature. At the level of scientist productivity declines with age following a predictable pattern. The problem of the impact of age structure on scientific productivity at the level of institutes is much less explored. The paper examines evidence from the Italian National Research Council. The path of hiring of junior researchers along the history of the institution is reconstructed. We find that age structure has a depressing effect on productivity and derive policy implications. The dynamics of growth of research institutes is introduced as a promising research field.

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Summary The paper assesses the empirical foundation of two largely held assumptions in science policy making, namely scale and agglomeration effects. According to the former effect, scientific production may be subject to increasing returns to scale, defined at the level of administrative units, such as institutes or departments. A rationale for concentrating resources on larger units clearly follows from this argument. According to the latter, scientific production may be positively affected by external economies at the geographical level, so that concentrating institutes in the same area may improve scientific spillover, linkages and collaborations.  Taken together, these arguments have implicitly or explicitly legitimated policies aimed at consolidating institutes in public sector research and at creating large physical facilities in a small number of cities. The paper is based on the analysis of two large databases, built by the authors from data on the activity of the Italian National Research Council in all scientific fields and of the French INSERM in biomedical research. Evidence from the two institutions is that the two effects do not receive empirical support. The implications for policy making and for the theory of scientific production are discussed.

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Summary  

This paper explores scale, scope and trade-off effects in scientific research and education. External conditions may dramatically affect the measurement of performance. We apply theDaraio&Simar's (2005) nonparametric methodology to robustlytake into account these factors and decompose the indicators of productivity accordingly. From a preliminary investigation on the Italian system of universities, we find that economies of scale and scope are not significant factors in explaining research and education productivity. We do not find any evidence of the trade-off research vs teaching. About the trade-off academic publications vs industry oriented research, it seems that, initially, collaboration with industry may improve productivity, but beyond a certain level the compliance with industry expectations may be too demanding and deteriorate the publication profile. Robust nonparametric methods in efficiency analysis are shown as useful tools for measuring and explaining the performance of a public research system of universities.

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