Original Research

Research management and research output

Anita Bosch
Acta Commercii | Vol 11, No 2 | a148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v11i2.148 | © 2011 Anita Bosch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2011 | Published: 06 December 2011

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Purpose: A study was conducted at two merged South African higher education institutions to determine which management factors, as identified in a literature study as well as through a factor analysis of survey data, were predictive of the dependent variable 'research output'.

Problem investigated: Research output contributes to creating sustainability of knowledge of management sciences and therefore the active management of research is in the interest of progressive universities. Research management related activities are usually associated with measurable targets, detailed plans, rigorous evaluation and decisive action - all of which are observable (perhaps programmable) behaviour also referred to as tangible factors. Authors argue that the tangible factors of any successful institution can be copied, technology can be bought, and in theory you should have an instantly thriving research institution. It is, however, clear that although many institutions have exactly the same technology and structure as their successful competitors, they still fail to succeed in increasing research output.

Design and Research methodology or approach: A survey was distributed to n=411 and yielded a 49.6% response rate. A confirmatory reliability analysis as well as a factor analysis was conducted.

Findings/implications: The empirical model that was derived through a factor analysis strengthens the argument that both tangible and intangible factors exist in a research environment. Tangible and intangible factors play a different role in predicting research output. The tangible factors are predictors of research output for non-research-active academics. The theoretical research output prediction model highlights predictors such as 'professional activities' and 'individual skills and competence' for specific groupings. The theoretical model indicates that the factors that predict research output are largely intrinsic to a researcher but could also be supported by institutional research management.

Value of research: Findings provide direction on the differences in managing research active and research non-active academics. Findings could influence institutional research management practices and policies.

Conclusion: A large percentage of the knowledge capital of the global economy is managed and retained in a university setting through the management of tangibles and intangibles. Research management, of which impact is measured through research output, can only be optimised through a balanced combination of tangibles and intangibles.


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