TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hiring Star Professors Boosts Faculty Productivity

StarInside Higher Ed, Recruiting Stars Bolsters Departments' Research Productivity:

The hiring of "star" professors -- defined by their research output -- results in improvement in the research productivity of the departments they join, according a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  The study [Why Stars Matter, by Ajay Agrawal (University of Toronto), Alexander Oettl (Georgia Institute of Technology) & John McHale (National University of Ireland)] finds that the recruitment of research stars does nothing to lift the productivity of those already in the department (and actually leads to reduced productivity of some of them). But the productivity of researchers who join the department after a star joins increases significantly -- for scholars who work in related and unrelated fields alike. The study finds that the effects are most pronounced at mid-ranked institutions.

Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink


That depends a lot who the "stars" are. We've hired some people who have definitely pulled up their colleagues along with them. Others, not so much.

Posted by: michael livingston | Apr 2, 2014 5:03:12 AM

The graphic should say "star researchers," not "star teachers," right?

Posted by: Eric Muller | Apr 2, 2014 7:15:56 AM

"Star" professors -- defined by their research output?” But the marquee says “star teachers.” I submit that there is almost no overlap between professors defined by their research output and professors who actually effective teachers. In my experience, the qualities of a good researcher do not a good teacher make. In fact the qualities of a good researcher/writer frequently make bad teachers.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 2, 2014 7:40:37 AM

I can think of two explanations:
1. The star is better at evaluating talent and thus improves the hiring decision.
2. The star is attractive to potential hires and hence increases the yield ratio for offers.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 2, 2014 1:32:01 PM

This might be relevant to one of the big questions of academia: is it worth making a top researcher be chairman or dean or president despite the damage to his research, since he will be a better manager? Do we want to make the philosophers into kings?
I don't know the answer.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 2, 2014 1:34:08 PM