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SSN 1995-459X print
E-ISSN 2312-9972 online
ISSN 2500-2597 online English

Leonid Gokhberg


Mikhail Gershman 1, Tatiana Kuznetsova 1
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

Performance-related Pay in the Russian R&D Sector

2014. Vol. 8. No. 3. P. 58–69 [issue contents]

Strengthening the motivation, quality and efficiency of researchers’ work is a pressing issue in all countries active in science, technology and innovation policy. One way to address this challenge is by introducing flexible remuneration mechanisms which are country-specific yet still share certain basic principles such as the relationship between compensation and research productivity. Improving researchers’ remuneration is particularly urgent issue now in Russia and it is addressed by recent policy measures adopted since 2012.

This paper contributes new evidence from Russian researchers, R&D managers, and government representatives collected via a survey and focus group discussions on the desirability and efficiency of the current remuneration policy. Although most members of Russia’s scientific community do not question the necessity and relevance of the government’s ‘efficient contract’ initiative in the R&D sector, the implementation of this policy has had a more mixed response. Scientists’ generally low enthusiasm towards the planned reforms may be explained by a general low level of trust in executive authorities by all layers of Russian society (especially by intellectuals), a conservative inertia of the scientific community, and by the de facto failure of previous attempts at reform. Overall, Russian scientists see introducing efficient remuneration mechanisms and increasing research productivity as key challenges. The experts pointed out that research productivity should be interpreted more widely, to include researchers’ educational, administrative and other responsibilities. The package of indicators used to evaluate R&D productivity should take into account the particular features of different scientific disciplines and areas of work. Performance-related pay (PRP) mechanisms can only be efficient if a decent basic salary is provided. Negotiating such imbalances could make the R&D sphere attractive again to talented young people as well as to experienced professionals.

Our analysis leads us to conclude that a rapid transition to a PRP system without simultaneously undertaking much-needed institutional reforms would be inadvisable. It is first necessary to address the systemic problems. Regular business processes should be restructured so that researchers do not have to carry out irrelevant responsibilities. It is certainly necessary to continue increasing R&D expenditures, including raising researchers’ salaries. However, that will have little effect if researchers do not see professional and personal opportunities for themselves in the future and if their profession’s prestige remains low. An incomplete list of due S&T policy reforms includes: restructuring the public R&D sector and identifying the best performing PROs; improving funding mechanisms; attracting non-budgetary funds; improving the work of public science foundations; upgrading facilities and equipment; implementing targeted measures to preserve disciplinary schools in science; and attracting young people into science.


Gershman M., Kuznetsova T. (2014) Performance-related Pay in the Russian R&D Sector. Foresight-Russia,vol. 8, no 3, pp. 58–69.

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