The Governance and Performance of Universities: Evidence from Europe and the US

53 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2009

See all articles by Philippe Aghion

Philippe Aghion

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mathias Dewatripont

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Caroline M. Hoxby

Stanford University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Hoover Institution; Stanford University

Andreu Mas-Colell

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

André Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES); Bruegel; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Abstract

We test the hypothesis that universities are more productive when they are both more autonomous and face more competition. Using survey data, we construct indices of university autonomy and competition for both Europe and the United States. We show that there are strong positive correlations between these indices and multiple measures of university output. To obtain causal evidence, we investigate exogenous shocks to US universities’ expenditures over three decades. These shocks arise through the political appointment process, which we use to generate instrumental variables. We find that an exogenous increase in a university’s expenditure generates more output, measured by either patents or publications, if the university is more autonomous and faces more competition. Exploiting variation over time in the ‘stakes’ of competitions for US federal research grants, we also find that universities generate more output for a given expenditure when research competitions are high stakes. We draw lessons, arguing that European universities could benefit from a combination of greater autonomy and greater accountability. Greater accountability might come through increased reliance on competitive grants, enhanced competition for students and faculty (promoted by reforms that increase mobility), and yardstick competitions (which often take the form of assessment exercises).

Suggested Citation

Aghion, Philippe and Dewatripont, Mathias and Hoxby, Caroline M. and Mas-Colell, Andreu and Sapir, Andre, The Governance and Performance of Universities: Evidence from Europe and the US. Economic Policy, Vol. 25, Issue 61, pp. 7-59, January 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1525966 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0327.2009.00238.x

Philippe Aghion (Contact Author)

College de France and London School of Economics and Political Science, Fellow ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mathias Dewatripont

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 4217/4 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Caroline M. Hoxby

Stanford University ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hoover Institution ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

Stanford University ( email )

Department of Economics
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
650-725-8719 (Phone)
650-725-5702 (Fax)

Andreu Mas-Colell

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
(34-3) 542 20 58 (Phone)
(34-3) 542 12 23 (Fax)

Andre Sapir

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES) ( email )

Ave. Franklin D Roosevelt, 50 - C.P. 114
Brussels, B-1050
Belgium
+32 2 650 2345/4 (Phone)
+32 2 650 4475 (Fax)

Bruegel ( email )

Rue de la Charité 33
B-1210 Brussels Belgium
Belgium

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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