Sustainability in Chinese Higher Educational Institutions' Social Science Research: A Performance Interface toward Efficiency
Sustainability issues in higher educational institutions' (HEIs) research, especially in the social science field, have attracted increasing levels of attention in higher education administration in recent decades as HEIs are confronted with a growing pressure worldwide to increase the efficiency of their research activities under a limited volume and relatively equitable division of public funding resources. This paper introduces a theoretical analysis framework based on a data envelopment
... ata envelopment analysis, separating the social science research process into a foundation stage and a construction stage, and then projecting each HEI into certain quadrants to form several clusters according to their overall and stage efficiencies and corresponding Malmquist Productivity Indices. Furthermore, the interfaces are formed in each cluster as feasible potential improvement directions. The empirical results in detail are demonstrated from a data set of Chinese HEIs in Jiangsu Province over the Twelfth Five-Year period as offering a closer approximation to the "China social science research best practice". 2 of 18 technology" . These attributes make it hard to provide an undisputed production function to express an HEI's research process. In many cases, the immature marketization and incomplete real-time data system of social science research also lead to the basic problems inherent in the definition of a production function or the lack of exact quantitate data. One non-parametric frontier technique developed by Charnes, Cooper , called data envelopment analysis (DEA), has become a standard tool for evaluating efficiencies without exact production functions  . Previous studies have widely applied DEA to analyze the efficiency of HEIs in different countries or provinces, and can be classified into two broad branches. The first evaluates efficiencies by covering all activities provided by HEIs generally         , whereas the second narrows evaluation down to a particular activity, teaching, or research     . This study on research activities concentrates on Jiangsu Province in order to reduce the impacts caused by different regional economic development and education support policies. Moreover, past studies mostly focus on nature science or integrate nature science and social science together with little concern about social science individually. It is therefore very important that this gap should be addressed. This paper aims at the social science field solely focusing on the HEIs with a relative comparable development level from the view of accomplishments in provincial and local government projects. Furthermore, in order to explore the internal linking activities, the impact of component inefficiency, and the overall dynamic development, we quote the multi-period two-stage DEA model proposed by Kao and Hwang  and MPIs (Malmquist Productivity Indices)  to evaluate performance via calculating the efficiencies and efficiency variances of different HEIs in different periods as well as stages; we then project the HEIs to construct clusters based on the respective overall and stage efficiencies, and form an interface inside each cluster to present an improvement direction for sustainable betterment. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2-"The social science research context in HEIs"-is used to introduce the basic context and is illustrated by detailed research project data. Then, in Section 3, the theoretical framework and model are proposed to provide a description of the methodology. The special sample and the corresponding results are presented and discussed in Section 4. Finally, some conclusions and future research directions are drawn based on the preceding discussion.