Researchers’ Mobility and its Impact on Scientific Productivity

  • Fernandez-Zubieta A
  • Geuna A
  • Lawson C
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This article analyses the impact of mobility on researchers’ performance. We develop a theoretical framework based on the job-matching approach and the idea that research productivity is driven by the availability of capital equipment (and human capital) for research, and peer effects. The empirical analysis studies the careers of a sample of 171 UK academic researchers, spanning 1957 to 2005. On the basis of a unique ranking of UK institutions that we were able to construct for the period 1982 to 2005, we develop an econometric analysis of the impact of job changes on post mobility performance over five-years, and the overall effect of mobility. Contrary to the assumptions underpinning most policy actions in this area, we find no evidence that mobility per se increases academic performance. Mobility to ‘better’ departments has a positive weakly significant impact, while downward mobility reduces researchers’ productivity (in quantity and quality). Mobility is associated with a short-term decrease in performance arguably or most likely due to associated adjustment costs.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Academic labour market
  • I23
  • J24
  • O31
  • Research productivity
  • Researcher mobility

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  • Ana Fernandez-Zubieta

  • Aldo Geuna

  • Cornelia Lawson

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