Research profile: Stéphane Mechoulan

Stéphane Mechoulan, School of Public Administration

Analyzing the spillover effects of the Canada 150 Chairs Program on the productivity of Canadian scholars

Earlier this year, Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel, professor of economics at Dalhousie, and I were awarded a SSHRC Insight grant for a project focused on Canadian brain drain policy. Dr. Akbulut-Yuksel is the principal investigator. Our plan is to analyze the Canada 150 Research Chairs Program, which was designed to attract high calibre foreign scholars to Canadian universities; 24 were eventually appointed. The program announcement created controversy. Opponents argued that the funds allocated to the program should be made available to Canadian scholars directly. Despite Canada’s official stance that this one-time recruitment effort was a net gain, there is no plan to measure or assess the value of the initiative. In addition, the self-selection of those scholars in certain places has the potential to exacerbate existing (dis)advantages between universities as well as between regions.

We will study the impact of the program on the productivity of the academics who became those Research Chairs’ colleagues, and on the job market placement and productivity of doctoral and postdoctoral students who were exposed to those Research Chairs. The artificial structure of the Canada 150 Research Chair scheme creates unique research design features that will help research institutions evaluate the consequences of policies designed to attract high calibre scholars. A better understanding of the working of research clusters is important because knowledge creation and innovation are the main pillars of long-term economic growth in the 21st century with a fierce competition for talent internationally.