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A helping hand from the government? How public research funding affects academic output in less-prestigious universities in China

Nannan Yu, Yueyan Dong and Martin de Jong

Research Policy, 2022, vol. 51, issue 10

Abstract: Universities play an important role in any scientific and technological innovation system. Previous studies have indicated that more generous public research funding resulted in higher research output in universities. Our study, however, proposes that the positive impact of public funds is much weaker in less-prestigious universities than in prestigious ones, and that overdependence on public research funding in fact even hurts academic output quality in less-prestigious universities. We find evidence for this claim in a dataset from among Chinese 622 universities in the period 2010–2017. The negative correlation between high dependence on public research funding and academic output quality is not uniform but depends on specific conditions. It is likely to be weaker in less-prestigious research-oriented universities and in less prestigious universities dedicated to fundamental research. Moreover, we find that for them collaboration with top universities and a high proportion of senior scientists can mitigate the negative impact that high dependence on public research funding has on academic output quality and improve the efficiency in the spending of public funds. Our study contributes to the literature by highlighting differences between prestigious and less-prestigious universities in terms of how public funds affect academic output and by evaluating the impact of government involvement in scientific research at the university-level and it is the first study globally to do so.

Keywords: Public research funding; Academic output; Research quality; Less-prestigious universities; Research policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2022.104591

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Research Policy is currently edited by M. Bell, B. Martin, W.E. Steinmueller, A. Arora, M. Callon, M. Kenney, S. Kuhlmann, Keun Lee and F. Murray

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