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How do young tenured professors benefit from a mentor? Effects on management, motivation and performance


Do young tenured professors who receive mentorship differ from those without mentorship in terms of motivation, scholarly performance, and group management practice? We conducted a survey among research group leaders in the biomedical and health sciences in the Netherlands, to study the effects of mentorship. Our results show that mentorship practices leads to positive results. Young professors who receive mentorship on average have a more positive view on their work environment and manage their research more actively. Furthermore, young professors with a mentor on average perform better in terms of acquired grants. These findings indicate that it is important for universities to actively organize mentorship programs for young senior staff.

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  1. At least four Dutch universities introduced from 2011 onwards a formal mentoring programme.

  2. In the Netherlands, the scientific careers of talented researchers are stimulated by the ‘Principal Investigator’ system, which challenges them to take up leadership and develop their own lines of research ( Accessed 28 December 2013.

  3. Many formal professional mentoring programs are aimed to support underrepresented populations, such as women, to help them to retain their positions and advance in organizations (Bland et al. 2011). However, in this paper we focus on the general effects of mentorship.

  4. More information of this survey study can be found in the report: ‘A different style of leadership? Effects of career phase and gender on academic leadership practices’ (Belder et al 2012).

  5. Most starting group leaders (88 %) are tenured and are employed in some form of professorship: 41 % as an associate professor, 26 % as a full professor and 21 % as an assistant professor.


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The authors acknowledge the contribution of Maaike Verbree to the research. Cathelijn Waaijer and Marije de Goede provided useful comments on earlier drafts.

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Correspondence to Inge van der Weijden.


Appendix 1

See Table 7.

Table 7 Work environment

Appendix 2

See Table 8.

Table 8 Motivation

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van der Weijden, I., Belder, R., van Arensbergen, P. et al. How do young tenured professors benefit from a mentor? Effects on management, motivation and performance. High Educ 69, 275–287 (2015).

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  • Mentorship
  • Academic careers
  • Research management
  • Human resources
  • Motivation
  • Performance