About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6165-6175
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain


A. Bosch Venter

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Research management related activities are usually associated with measurable targets, detailed plans, rigorous evaluation and decisive action – all of which are observable (perhaps programmable) behaviours also referred to as tangible factors. Becker, Huselid and Ulrich (2001, p. 13) argue that the tangible factors of any successful institution can be copied, technology can be bought, and in theory you should have an instantly thriving research institution. It is, however, clear that although many institutions have exactly the same technology and structure as their successful competitors, they still fail to succeed in increasing research output. This raises the proposition that the intangible factors of an institution are what create success or failure. Intangibles are difficult to quantify, are based on people’s assumptions, cannot be bought or imitated, and appreciate in value with purposeful use (Becker et al., 2001, p. 15). I propose that tangibles are seldom what create a thriving research university and that intangibles are the factors that create competitive advantage. I further propose that, for research management, intangible factors do not exist without tangible factors. Research management, of which impact is measured through research output, can only be optimized through a balanced combination of tangibles and intangibles.

Research focus
In this regard a study was conducted at two merged South African higher education institutions to determine which factors, as identified in a literature study as well as through a factor analysis of survey data, were predictive of the dependent variable ‘research output’.

Research design and method
A survey, based on the theoretical model, was distributed to 411 academics across five campuses and yielded a 49.6% response rate. The analysis approaches utilised were Chi square tests, Cronbach alpha tests, Factor analysis, ANOVA, CHAID analysis, Regression analysis.

Main findings and interpretations
The empirical model, that was derived through a factor analysis from this study, strengthens the argument that both types of factors exist in a research environment. Furthermore, the tangible and intangible factors play a different role in predicting research output. The tangible factors are predictors of research output for non-research-active academics, which means that the research-active academics are motivated to produce research output by factors other than tangible factors.

On the question “Which factors are predictors of research output?” The theoretical research output prediction model highlights the fact that factors associated directly with researchers, namely their ‘professional activities’ (83.46%) and ‘individual skills and competence’ (94.52%) are the predictors of research output. Apart from the institution’s provision of opportunities for participation in professional activities or opportunities for the development of skills and competence, the theoretical model indicates that the factors that predict research output are up to an individual researcher and not institutional management. The very high prediction rate of 94.52% of ‘individual skills and competence’ indicates that staff development in research skills should be very high on a university’s priority list when attempting to stimulate research output.
author = {Bosch Venter, A.},
series = {3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-614-2439-9},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {15-17 November, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {6165-6175}}
AU - A. Bosch Venter
SN - 978-84-614-2439-9/2340-1095
PY - 2010
Y1 - 15-17 November, 2010
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2010 Proceedings
SP - 6165
EP - 6175
ER -
A. Bosch Venter (2010) THE PREDICTORS OF RESEARCH OUTPUT, ICERI2010 Proceedings, pp. 6165-6175.