, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 191–209 | Cite as

Research or management? An investigation of the impact of leadership roles on the research performance of academic administrators

  • Wen Lou
  • Yuehua ZhaoEmail author
  • Yuchen Chen
  • Jin Zhang


This study quantitatively investigated whether the research performance of academic administrators (leaders) was affected by their administrative services. We sampled 111 academic administrators, including 90 department deans and 21 university presidents, from 26 universities. These leaders’ research performance was determined by the number of their publications and citations in the Web of Science databases. To compare the effect on their research performance by their administrative roles, we proposed four periods: the pre-position period, the latest position period, the reference period, and the in-position period. Statistical methods were applied to compare the research performance of the sampled administrators before and after they accepted the current administrative roles. The results suggest that 80% of academic leaders’ productivity and citation have fallen by 42 and 62% averagely. The extent of such impact varied in different disciplines. Leaders’ performance in medicine fields has declined the most (60%). The impact on research productivity appeared to be stronger for administrators serving in higher-ranking universities. In addition, the research performance of both university presidents and department deans were substantially influenced by their administrative services.


Research performance Leadership Administrative roles Career path 



The present study is an extended version of an article (Zhao et al. 2017) presented at the 16th International Conference on Scientometrics and Informetrics, Wuhan (China), 16–20 October 2017. This study is funded by Peak Discipline Construction Project of Education at East China Normal University and “Chenguang Program” supported by Shanghai Education Development Foundation and Shanghai Municipal Education Commission (Grant No. 17CG19) and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant No. 2017M620142).


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Information Management, Faculty of Economics and Management, Institute for Academic Evaluation and DevelopmentEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.School of Information StudiesUniversity of Wisconsin–MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  4. 4.School of Information ManagementNanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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