FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Economia e Gestão

Unidade de I&D

INOVA - Economia [ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124] visitada em 24/09/2008

Classificação: Excellent

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This unit has a number of strengths and to judge it to be the best research unit that we visited:

• This unit has an impressive record in terms of scientific productivity. The curricula vitae of this unit contain a very large number of publications in very good and excellent journals, some of them the best in the discipline. Moreover, the overwhelming majority (about three-quarters) of the PhD researchers have a publication in an international journal since 2003. This publication record parallels an international reputation of many of its members in their domain of specialization.

• The unit has well-defined objectives combining individual research interests with the interests of the group as a whole. It follows a general impression of strong consistency in the work of the team and its collective objectives.

• This unit seems to have solved the potential conflicts between the department and the research unit in terms of teaching versus research by having all members of the department be members of the research unit. Researchers, both junior and senior, report that they teach fewer hours than do researchers in other units.

• Junior researchers are not asked to do administrative work. There is a well developed incentive scheme and for allocating research funds for publishing in good journals. There are also clear criteria for promotion and tenure: There is a promotions committee, which solicits outside letters, and the recommendations of this committee are voted on by tenured faculty council. Promotion to full professor requires evidence of outside recognition. Junior researchers say that they clearly understand the criteria for promotion and tenure. Hiring of new junior researchers is done on the international market.

• The unit has a doctoral program in which most classes are taught in English. Indeed, about 40 percent of the PhD students are foreigners. The graduate students with whom we met are happy with the program.

Overall, this is a unit that has sought to adopt international best practices in running itself and to compete on an international level.

The panel understood that there are a couple of problems with funding that made it difficult for the unit to pursue its objectives:

• The unit has encouraged young researchers to submit applications for FCT projects. Although a number of these applications have been approved, more than a year has passed without any funding being realized. Members of the unit complain that this has hurt efforts to recruit promising junior researchers on the international market.

• The unit has had difficulties in securing funding for foreign graduate students. Members of the unit complain that this has hurt efforts to expand the size of the unit and to make it more competitive internationally.

There were characteristics of the unit that raised questions among the members of the panel. It is possible that these questions point to areas in which the unit could make itself stronger:

• The number of completed PhD theses is low by international standards given the size and quality of the unit. Even with the difficulties created by lack of funding for foreign graduate students, should the unit do more to increase the size of its PhD program?

• Given the compressed salary scale, some senior researchers expressed a preference for hiring senior researchers in areas in which they perceived the unit to be relatively weak, especially in macroeconomics. The reasoning for this preference given to us was that the new senior researchers would be leaders who could attract better junior researchers. The junior researchers with whom we spoke — regardless of field — perceived little opportunity for collaborating with senior researchers, however. Is there in fact a need to senior researchers in all fields? Would the unit do better to try to build on its strengths than to spread itself out across many fields?

• Among the researchers who have not had a publication in an international journal since 2003, there are a number of older researchers, which is easy to understand. Unfortunately, however, there are also a number of young researchers with PhDs from very good foreign PhD programs. Could lack of research output by these junior researchers be related to the feeling of isolation from the senior researchers?

• A negative trait of the unit is that, although it rightly perceives itself to be the best research unit in Portugal, it does not feel a sense of responsibility for fostering economic research on a national scale, except by providing a good example to other units. A relevant example provided by one of the panel members is the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, which had — from the late 1970s until the early 1990s — by far the best economics department in Spain and actively provided leadership on a national scale, for example, organizing the Simposio del Análisis Económico every year for researchers from all over Spain. This conference has since become the annual meeting of the Asociación Española de Economía/Spanish Economic Association. While the gains to the research unit in the Nova from undertaking activities like this on a national scale are not very clear, there could be large gains for economic research in Portugal in general.


• The preceding negative trait of the unit is reinforced by what appears to be a lack of willingness to cooperate, as an entity, with other research groups of different universities working in the same fields. Even if the individual relations with researchers of the same generation belonging to other units remain friendly, competition rather than cooperation seems to dominate. Since this research group is reputed as being the strongest in Portugal, this situation creates feelings of jealousy in the other groups belonging to different universities. This attitude certainly weakens the competitive position of Portuguese units at the European level and deteriorates, or at least slows down, the cooperative potential among different research units in the country.

Sobre os grupos de investigação
Business Management [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124-2293]
Econometrics and Quantitative Methods [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124-2294]
Economic History [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124-2297]
Macroeconomics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124-2290]
Microeconomics [RG-ECO-LVT-Lisboa-124-2275]