Recruitment, Effort, and Retention Effects of Performance Contracts for Civil Servants: Experimental Evidence from Rwandan Primary Schools

Clare Leaver (University of Oxford)
Owen Ozier (World Bank, Development Research Group)
Pieter Serneels (University of East Anglia)
Andrew Zeitlin (Georgetown University)

Abstract : Accumulating evidence suggests that pay-for-performance (P4P) contracts can elicit greater effort from incumbent civil servants, but less is known about how these contracts affect the composition of the public sector workforce. We provide the first experimental evidence of the impact of P4P on both the compositional and effort margins. In partnership with the Government of Rwanda, we implemented a `pay-for-percentile' scheme (Barlevy and Neal 2012) in a novel two-tier experimental design. In the first tier, we randomly assigned teacher labor markets to either P4P or equivalent fixed-wage contracts. In the second tier, we implemented a `surprise', school-level re-randomization, allowing us to separately identify the compositional effects of advertised P4P contracts and the effort effects of experienced P4P contracts. Our pre-analysis plan sets out a theoretical framework that helps to define a set of hypotheses, and conducts simulations on blinded data to develop high-powered tests. We find that P4P contracts did change the composition of the teaching workforce, drawing in individuals who were more money-oriented, as measured by a framed Dictator Game. But these recruits were not less effective teachers---if anything the reverse. On the effort margin, we observe substantial and statistically significant gains in teacher value added, mirrored in positive effects on teacher presence and observed pedagogy in the classroom. In Year 2, we estimate the total effect of P4P, across compositional and effort margins, to be 0.21 standard deviations of pupil learning. One quarter of this impact can be attributed to selection at the recruitment stage, with the remaining three-quarters arising from increased effort.

Improving Public Sector Management at Scale? Experimental Evidence on School Governance in India

Karthik Muralidharan (University of California San Diego)
Abhijeet Singh (Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract : We present results from a large-scale experimental evaluation of an ambitious attempt to improve school governance at scale in India (implemented in ~1900 schools and randomized over ~5800 schools). The intervention consisted of several global best practices in school governance and included three main components: comprehensive school assessments by external school inspectors leading to customized school improvement plans, regular follow ups on progress with ongoing monitoring and support and leveraging ICT tools to make both assessments and progress visible throughout the education system. We report four main findings. First, the assessments were able to meaningfully evaluate school quality with scores being predictive of future student value-added and teacher absence. Second, though initial assessments (overseen by external consultants) were implemented well, subsequent monitoring by government officials was not affected by the intervention. Third, we find no impact on teacher absence, teacher effort in classrooms, student engagement or the engagement of School Management Committees. Finally, consistent with this, the intervention had no impact on student learning outcomes. Our results provide direct evidence of the challenge of improving service delivery at scale in developing countries and show how well-designed plans and programs fail due to poor implementation and state capacity.

Management and Bureaucratic Effectiveness: Evidence from the Ghanaian Civil Service

Imran Rasul (University College London)
Daniel Rogger (World Bank)
Martin J. Williams (University of Oxford)

Abstract : We study the relationship between management practices and bureaucratic output, using an original survey of the universe of Ghanaian civil servants across 45 organizations and administrative data on over 3600 tasks and projects they undertake. We first demonstrate that there is a large range of variation across government organizations, both in management quality and output delivery. We then show that output exhibits a positive partial correlation with autonomy/discretion-related practices, but a negative partial correlation with incentives/monitoring-related practices. We investigate the external validity of this relationship in a separate sample of bureaucrats and outputs from Nigeria. While these results contrast with the frequent policy emphasis on introducing top-down monitoring and incentives as a means to elicit agent effort, we show that the findings are consistent with theories of bureaucratic coordination, intrinsic motivation, influence activities, and output clarity. We discuss implications for theory, empirical methodology, and policy.