Do Research Training Groups Operate at Optimal Size?

University of Zurich, Institute of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 367

19 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2017 Last revised: 19 May 2017

See all articles by Kerstin Pull

Kerstin Pull

University of Tuebingen - School of Business and Economics

Birgit Pferdmenges

University of Tuebingen - Department of Business Administration and Economics

Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich - Institute for Business Administration; Swiss Leading House

Date Written: February 1, 2017

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze whether structured PhD programs operate at optimal size and whether there are differences between different disciplinary fields. Theoretically, we postulate that the relation between the size of a PhD program and program performance is hump shaped. For our empirical analysis, we use hand-collected data on 86 Research Training Groups (RTGs) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). As performance indicators, we use (a) the number of completed PhDs and (b) the number of publications by RTG students (PhD students and postdoctoral researchers). Applying DEA with constant and variable returns to scale, we find that the optimal team size varies between 10 and 16 RTG students in the humanities and social sciences. In contrast, our empirical analysis does not uncover a systematic relation between size and performance for RTGs in the natural and life sciences.

JEL Classification: I23, I21, I28

Suggested Citation

Pull, Kerstin and Pferdmenges, Birgit and Backes-Gellner, Uschi, Do Research Training Groups Operate at Optimal Size? (February 1, 2017). University of Zurich, Institute of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 367 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2930861 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2930861

Kerstin Pull (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Nauklerstr. 47
Tuebingen, D-72074
Germany

Birgit Pferdmenges

University of Tuebingen - Department of Business Administration and Economics ( email )

Mohlstrasse 36
Tuebingen, D-72074
Germany

Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich - Institute for Business Administration ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
8032 Zurich
Switzerland
+41 44 6344281 (Phone)
+41 44 6344370 (Fax)

Swiss Leading House ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
Zurich, 8032
Switzerland

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