Working Paper BETA #2015-07

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Title : Does sector-specific experience matter? The case of European higher education ministers.

Author(s) : Julien Jacqmin, Mathieu Lefebvre

Abstract : This paper looks at the relationship between higher education ministers and the performance of the sector that they govern. Using an original panel dataset with the characteristics of European higher education ministers, we find that having a past experience in the sector leads to a higher level of performance, as measured by ranking data. Making a parallel with the literature about the impact of education on the educated, we discuss potential explanations behind the impact of this on-the-job learning experience. As we find that this characteristic has no impact on the spendings of the sector, we argue that this academic experience makes them more prone to introduce adequate reforms. Furthermore, we find that this result is driven by ministers with both this sector-specific and an electoral experience, the latter measured by a succesful election at the regional or national level. This tends to show that political credibility should not be overshadowed by the importance of the sector-specific experience of ministers.

Key-words : Research performance, Higher education minister, leadership, Political economy.

JEL Classification : D7, H11, I23