A MODEL OF RESEARCH PRODUCTIVITY OF UNIVERSITIES
The role of creating knowledge is today understood to be an important factor in the growth and well-being of societies. Creating new knowledge not only helps in the development of new technologies and products, but also prepares its future generations through education. Therefore, knowledge creating institutions such as universities have assumed a key role in modern advanced economies. They have metamorphosed from institutions of teaching and knowledge dissemination to institutions of knowledge creation. In some economies such as the US, universities have started specialising in research.
In such research universities, teaching is an important but not the only significant activity. These universities recognize that there is a synergy between research and teaching. Research aids teaching leading to a spiralling effect of creating a pool of researchers who in turn generate further knowledge. Moreover, research universities are often part of a wider national system of innovation and technological development and their role and importance in national development is readily acknowledged. However, sustaining high-quality research in universities requires the recognition that higher education and research are two distinct roles with distinct requirements. In addition, such institutions are very resource intensive.
It is not surprising, therefore, to note that many other countries are trying to put in place institutional mechanisms to encourage higher research productivity in their universities. However, it is also recognised that there are important impediments to this endeavour in many developing countries. For example, universities in developing countries have to face the twin challenges of teaching a growing but aspiring middle-class population in order to make it employable, while at the same time contribute to research on pressing national issues. There is also a debate on whether there is a need to develop and nurture universities that are exclusively focused on research in developing countries, given that running such universities require considerable expenses.
Given the importance of research in a knowledge economy, it is of interest to academics as well as policymakers to understand the various factors that influence university research productivity. Broadly, factors that influence research productivity of universities may be classified under several categories - institutional factors such as national system of innovation, intellectual property systems, University-industry interface, and availability of resources; organisational level factors such as policies and incentives, strategy; and individual level factors such as faculty motivation, training, ability to access resources.
Of particular interest is the question of whether similar factors apply across the spectrum of economies. To this end, the paper will present a literature review on the factors that facilitate and hinder research productivity in universities in general and in emerging economies in particular. The paper will present a model of research productivity in universities with testable propositions for future research in this field.