Sub-Theme 4 | Internal Organization
1. Fellow: Personal Background
The KDI, since its foundation, hired mainly Ph.D. holders of Economics from the US. Of course, even during the early stage after its foundation, those people were not the only qualified people to be recruited, since some of the workforce were chosen from well educated people from other non-US regions. After the scope of research has been expanded, several researchers who were specialized in fields other than economics joined, also through the procedure of mergers with other institutes such as the National Economics Regulations Institute. However, despite such few exceptions, the main stream of recruited researchers in the KDI were the economics who earned their Ph.D. from the US.
Despite the various tasks the KDI handles, it can be easily observed that there are a majority of economists in this institute. This is becoming an issue, about its adequacy. In reality, this is frequently criticized by the press or the National Assembly. The KDI also put much effort to accept these criticism and consciously endeavored to recruit non-Economics majoring scholars who earned their degree from a non-US country, however, there haven’t been a dramatic change made for the formation of the recruited human resource, as of yet.
The reason for this institute being a group of ‘Economists who earned their Ph.D. from the US’ until today can be explained by three factors. First, since KDI’s requested tasks are basically related to the public finance and its spending, regardless of the topic, researchers without an economics background may not be able to get used to handling the tasks.
Second, due to the characteristics of Economics, border for handling many different topics does not exist. Lastly, the KDI does not have to recruit all sorts of experts from all fields. There have been may think tanks established for the past 40 years, and these research institutes already have researchers who have majored in many different fields of study among the non-economics field. Thus, collaboration with those other institutes can be a solution. Rather, having a large set of economists, or of similar majors, can be said to be acting as an advantage for the KDI.
2. Recruitment of New Human Resource
There are some cases among the fellows of the KDI who join the institute after working at a domestic university or a different research institute. However, in most cases, researchers tend to join the KDI as they return to Korea from earning their Ph.D. as their first job. At least after the year 2000, the procedure to recruit fresh Ph.D. graduates from the US is almost the same as famous US universities recruiting their professors.
The KDI posts recruitments around October every year targeting Ph.D. degree candidates who are to earn their degree during the summer next year. While the potential applicants who are interested in the KDI sends their application forms to the KDI, document evaluation takes place to select the interviewees for the interview to be held in early January at the American Economic Association. Next, including the president of the KDI, 4-5 director-level fellows (or even as many as 7-8 persons) goes there to become the interviewer for three days, to interview around 30 applicants for 40-50 minutes per person. The interview result will be applied to the result, to choose the final 10-15 persons, to be invited in Seoul and open a seminar during February or March, and the final successful applicants will be chosen based on the contents of their presentations from the seminar.
For the invitation to the seminar, airfare and accomodations are fully supported by the KDI.
These seminars are held for around 2 hours, while the applicants makes presentations on their theses and of which the Q&A session follows. In most cases, many of the KDI fellows are present at the seminars in order to discuss the topics in-depth. After the seminar, all the participants enjoy their dinner to talk about many different topics other than the thesis, and answers to the applicant’s questions on what kind of organization is the KDI. After these seminars, the final successful applicant receives the notification that they have been chosen, and once the successful applicants accept the offer, they finally become the new fellows. These people return to Korea between June and September after earning their Ph.D. and start working for the KDI. The recruitment process for persons with job experience, or the scholars who already have a job inside or outside of Korea, is similar to that of the people expected to graduate.
Whether to consider with more importance the potential or the majoring field during the new human resource recruitment has always been an issue for the KDI. If an applicant has an outstanding ability for research as well as having majored in the field the KDI is in need of right now, then it would be perfect. However, although with a sufficient potential, if there already exists many fellows within that field of study, or, if somebody majored in the very field which the KDI needs to recruit at the moment but were not able to show his or her potential during the seminar, whether to select that person or not has always been a repeatedly occurring issue.
There is no specific answer for this question. However, it seems that the KDI focused more on the potential than the majoring field during the recruitment process. This is also related to the characteristics of the KDI’s research mentioned earlier. That is to say, for many of the research projects which the KDI should conduct, it is very difficult to find the right person of that specific major, or, it is in fact almost impossible. Under this condition, if a person seems to have the potential, then that person might as well successfully conduct the research of the necessary field – which was the reason for the KDI to recruit more people with potential rather than considering their majors.
3. Promotion System and Human Resource Management
The fellows of the KDI, after they are hired, are subject to the promotion system of ‘Associate Fellow – Fellow – Senior Fellow.’ This procedure is quite similar to the ‘Assistant Professor - Associate Professor – Full Professor’ system of universities in the US, and recent trend for professors’ promotion system in Korea in the aspect of the contents and format. First of all, when considering the format, from the standard of the fellow who joined the KDI right after earning their Ph.D. degree, they get promoted as a fellow after 6 years through a promotion examination, and then again after 5-6years later they are appointed as a Senior Fellow through a promotion examination.
The Associate Fellow period is when the recruited people settle down as a research personnel of the KDI. As a fresh graduate to have their first job from earning their Ph.D. degrees, they indeed need a certain amount of time in order to be able to individually conduct and lead the research the KDI asks them for, or, the policy research that contributes to the Korean economy. There are several reasons for this - the most important reason being the fact that they need a certain amount of time to thoroughly understand the reality of Korea. For example, even though they have earned their Ph.D. in Economics from the US on a certain area, they must put much effort for literature reviews and data research to find meaningful research topics considering the Korean system and the policy environment, and to secure a database needed for these research topics. Indeed, in the past, there was a time when research was considered to be important when it can merely introduce the contents written in textbooks from abroad. However, as the economics field of Korea has been developed and a wide range of researchers emerged, these sort of introductory research has become meaningless, and thus much greater effort is required to write a policy report these days.
Eventually, the most important evaluation standard for an Associate Fellow to be promoted to a fellow is, how many research progress he or she have produced that is good enough to receive recognition from the colleagues in the academia of the identical research field, government officials, etc. Also, for a fellow to be promoted into a Senior Fellow, the most important factor to be evaluated is whether he or she is able to conduct a comprehensive policy research project collaborating with many other researchers of the selected policy area, and have the capability to contribute to setting the fundamental direction of the policy through these research projects.
Whether a fellow can be promoted or not is decided by the Promotion Committee. Considering the history of the KDI, there has been no report of such explicit case that a fellow has been fired due to not having met all the standards just like any other universities in the US. However, it is said to have been quite a number of cases that, when these standards are not met properly, they tend to transfer to another job on a voluntary basis. A number of fellows are postponed of their promotion more than once, and become promoted next time. This shows that the promotion within the KDI is not of a characteristic to be done automatically. As a result, the promotion examination acts pretty much as a stressful burden for the fellows, and they put much effort to produce research progress apt for their promotion standard.
Within the KDI, a fellow is called the “Doctor of Development,” just for fun. This means that, fellows are not merely economists who writes academic journals, but also should be able to be recognized academically as well as to have the capability to write reports that can be usefully utilized for government policies. The promotion system mentioned throughout this section can be eventually said as the vehicle for these fellows to grow into the Doctors of Development.
|Subject||Industry and Technology < Science/Technology|