Contract employment policy and research productivity of knowledge workers: An analysis of Spanish universities

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Lafuente González, Esteban Miguel ; Berbegal-Mirabent, Jasmina (2017)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1080/09585192.2017.1323226
  • Subject: :Economia i organització d'empreses [Àrees temàtiques de la UPC] | universities | knowledge workers | Gestió del coneixement | Contract employment | research scientists | research productivity | Knowledge management

This article investigates how contract employment practices adopted by universities—fixed-term contracts and permanent contracts—impact research productivity measured in terms of publications in scholarly journals. The empirical application considers the Spanish public higher education system for the period 2002-2008. We report an inverse U-shaped relationship between the rate fixed-term contracts and the research productivity of Spanish universities. That is, contract policies based on fixed-term contracts are conducive to research productivity; however, beyond a critical threshold value increases in the proportion of fixed-term contracts are associated with declining research productivity. These findings reveal that contract employment policies shape research productivity, and that flexible and balanced contract practices are critical for enhancing universities’ research productivity. The results suggest that the excessive use of fixed-term contracts might create an unstable working environment that limits the universities’ capacity to capitalize on their knowledge workers. Policy implications and future research avenues are discussed. Peer Reviewed
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