Low research productivity: Transformation, institutional and leadership concern at a South African university
Keywords:Transformation, Productivity, Institution, Research, Leadership, Academics, Policies
A key indicator of the academic worth, value and development of a university is its research capacity and publications. The universities of technologies (UoTs) that merged from former technikons have been poorly ranked due to low research performance. Hands have been pointed at the academics, some school of thought blamed the institutions, others pointed at the government agencies in charge of higher education policies, regulation, and restructuring. The aim of this paper is to examine empirically from the institutional point of view, reasons for low research output in the UoTs. A qualitative research approach was adopted by conducting semi-structured interviews with 15 academic staff and a comprehensive focus group meeting among six academics from three faculties in the same UoT. Heavy workload, career ambiguity, poaching, staffing, sabbatical leave policy, large student numbers, unawareness of incentives, poor retention strategies, institutional history, understanding of research mandate, clarity of policies and procedures and poor time management emerged as the contributing factors to low research output in the UoT. According to the fourth dimension of systems archetype, the study contributes to knowledge by allowing a level of understanding into the problem under investigation. Strategic issues to be considered were suggested for the stakeholders as a way forward.
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