Does Massive Funding Support of Researchers Work?: Evaluating the Impact of the South African Research Chair Funding Initiative

23 January 2014
Publication Type: Working Paper
JEL Code: O3, O38, O4

Does knowledge and innovation need to come with a big price tag? The question of resource allocation to research is of perennial concern for management of both public and private entities. In this study we evaluate whether a substantial increase in public funding to researchers makes a material difference to their productivity. To do so, we compare performance measures of researchers who were granted substantial funding against researchers with similar scholarly standing who did not receive such funding. We find that substantial funding does raise researcher performance – though the impact is moderate. Moreover, the impact is strongly conditional on the quality of the researcher who receives the funding, and is more successful in some disciplines than others. Moreover the cost per additional unit of output is such as to raise questions about the viability of the funding model. The implication is that public research funding will be more effective in raising research output where selectivity of recipients of funding is strongly conditional on the established track record of researchers.

Series title: Working paper 389
1 January 2014
Journal: Research Policy
1 March 2015
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