Breaking the 'Iron Rice Bowl:' Evaluating the Effect of the Tenure-track System on Research Productivity in China

60 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2020 Last revised: 16 Mar 2021

See all articles by Qingfeng Liu

Qingfeng Liu

Tsinghua University - Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management

Jianwei Xing

Peking University - National School of Development

Shilin Zheng

National School of Development Peking University

Date Written: February 22, 2021

Abstract

In recent decades, many European and Asian universities have reformed their personnel practices from traditional systems, which grant faculty members permanent employment from the time of hire, to tenure-track systems that require passing a review of research achievements. Using personnel system reforms of economics departments in China as a quasi-experiment, we compare effects of tenure-track and traditional personnel systems on faculty’s research productivity, and investigate to what extent does the adoption of tenure-track system contribute to the recent increase in global rankings of China’s economic research. We find that tenure-track faculty publish 67.5 percent more articles in the top and secondary field journals in economics than those hired under the traditional system. Further investigation shows that the positive effect mainly stems from intensified peer competition, research focus shifting, and increased research collaboration. We also find that the tenure-track system generates positive spillover effects on non-tenure-track faculty.

Keywords: Tenure-Track, Research Productivity, China, University

JEL Classification: I23, J24, J44, O31

Suggested Citation

Liu, Qingfeng and Xing, Jianwei and Zheng, Shilin, Breaking the 'Iron Rice Bowl:' Evaluating the Effect of the Tenure-track System on Research Productivity in China (February 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3672830 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3672830

Qingfeng Liu

Tsinghua University - Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management ( email )

Beijing
China
+86-18801075951 (Phone)

Jianwei Xing

Peking University - National School of Development ( email )

Beijing, 100871
China

Shilin Zheng (Contact Author)

National School of Development Peking University ( email )

No.5 Summer Palace road
Beijing 100871
China

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