Highly Cited Leaders and the Performance of Research Universities – Research Policy

There is a large literature on the productivity of universities. Little is known, however, about how different types of leader affect a university’s later performance. To address this, I blend quantitative and qualitative evidence. By constructing a new longitudinal dataset, I find that on average the research quality of a university improves some years after it appoints a president (vice chancellor) who is an accomplished scholar. To try to explain why scholar-leaders might improve the research performance of their institutions, I draw from interview data with twenty-six heads in universities in the United States and United Kingdom. The findings have policy implications for governments, universities, and a range of research and knowledge-intensive organizations.

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