Language as a Strategic Choice — Drawing Global Research Talent by Switching to English

39 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2022

See all articles by Yihui Cao

Yihui Cao

University of Westminster

Thomas Triebs

Loughborough University - School of Business and Economics

Justin Tumlinson

University of Exeter Business School

Date Written: August 30, 2022

Abstract

Global universities are switching their language of instruction to English to strengthen international rankings and research power. This paper quantifies the benefits of switching to English on university research performance and faculty recruiting. Using the two-way fixed effects (TWFE) estimator and the staggered difference-in-differences (DiD) estimator, we show that introducing English as the official language of instruction in a degree program increases the academic ability of new international faculty hires in Dutch and Belgian universities by a 7-21% average journal impact factor (JIF). These results are robust to a battery of controls including university and time fixed effects as well as university specific time trends. We argue that switching to English reduces labour mobility barriers, allowing universities in non-English speaking countries to recruit from the global talent pool. It removes language hurdles to scientific communication, which potentially accelerates knowledge diffusion and increases research power.

Keywords: Switch to English, Academic Ability, Difference-in-difference

Suggested Citation

Cao, Yihui and Triebs, Thomas and Tumlinson, Justin, Language as a Strategic Choice — Drawing Global Research Talent by Switching to English (August 30, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4215942 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4215942

Yihui Cao

University of Westminster ( email )

35 Marylebone Rd
London
United Kingdom
07842445146 (Phone)

Thomas Triebs

Loughborough University - School of Business and Economics ( email )

Epinal Way
Leics LE11 3TU
Leicestershire
United Kingdom

Justin Tumlinson (Contact Author)

University of Exeter Business School ( email )

Streatham Court
Xfi Building, Rennes Dr.
Exeter, EX4 4JH
United Kingdom

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