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Analysis of the Expert Interviews for the Research Project GOMED – Governance of University Medicine

Executive Summary

Twenty-one guided expert interviews with deans, vice deans of research (Forschungsdekanen), and research coordinators (Forschungsreferent/innen) from ten medical departments in Germany were carried out between December of 2009 and May of 2010. The purpose was to understand and record these actors’ knowledge about the operation of their institutions, particularly in regard to the establishment and implementation of performance-based funding (PBF) within their departments. The generated data will be the basis for further data collection through online surveys and bibliometric analyses carried out within the course of the project.

The managerial branches of the departments initiate PBF systems for their institutions. These implementations are usually responses to some kind of political impulse. In some cases, special commissions along side existing faculty councils were also established, in which PBF models where drafted and discussed. These commissions were expected to raise the perception of legitimacy of PBF within the department. This trend also partially explains why PBF systems are implemented differently with respect to regional focal points and concentrations of interests.

Central conflicts
A decisive factor that determines how PBF systems are implemented is the faculties’ acceptance of it. This is crucial because at least some degree of resistance to the program was found in all departments. We identified two major conflicts: (1) conflicts between established researchers, who aim to protect their vested interests, and the department management establishing PBF; (2) conflicts about which publications should be counted, and whether certain disciplines are structurally disadvantaged by the particular PBF system. In this context, the journal impact factor (JIF) is considered to be not optimal but the best available indicator of significant publications, since using citations is seen as to time consuming and cumbersome.

Estimation of effectiveness
Respondents described PBF as motivational. This was not only for its financial incentives, but also because it enabled a direct comparison between joint faculties. In this context, PBF has been sometimes referred to as a tool by which the separation between faculties and their clinics could be accounted for with more precision. However, the majority of the respondents see PBF as inadequate to steer strategic development within their departments. Finally, the departments’ estimation varied concerning the extent to which the complexity of a PBF formula influenced researchers’ acceptance of PBF.

A longer German version (29 pages) of the results is here available:
Schulz, Patricia / Neufeld, Jörg / Krempkow, René, 2011: Leistungsorientierte Mittelvergabe an Medizinischen Fakultäten in Deutschland – Die Sicht von Fakultätsleitungen. Auswertung der Experteninterviews des Forschungsprojektes GOMED – Governance Hochschulmedizin.
We would be happy to accommodate any further interest or questions about our project.

This project is part of a funding initiative from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research called "New Governance of Science: Research on the Relationship Between Science, Politics and Society."

Co-ordination of this project: Dr. René Krempkow