The Political Economy of Bureaucratic Effectiveness: Evidence from Local Rural Development Officials in India

47 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2017  

Aditya Dasgupta

University of California, Merced

Devesh Kapur

University of Pennsylvania - Center for the Advanced Study of India; Center for Global Development

Date Written: October 23, 2017

Abstract

Government development programs often founder because of a lack of effectiveness on the part of local implementing bureaucracy. What determines local bureaucratic effectiveness? Public choice arguments emphasize incentives and monitoring, while theories of state capacity highlight the importance of organizational autonomy from excess political interference. Drawing on a nationwide survey of the capacity and time usage of local rural development officials in India, this paper provides evidence for a different pathology: local bureaucracies are chronically under-resourced relative to their responsibilities because politicians make these decisions (inefficiently). We provide quantitative evidence that: i) inadequate personnel and resources force rural development officers to multi-task excessively; ii) this inability to specialize has an adverse impact on the performance of development programs. Factors affecting the electoral incentives of politicians to invest in local state capacity, including political alignment and fragmentation, account for much of the variation in local bureaucratic resources and therefore behavior and effectiveness.

Keywords: Bureaucracy; Political Economy

Suggested Citation

Dasgupta, Aditya and Kapur, Devesh, The Political Economy of Bureaucratic Effectiveness: Evidence from Local Rural Development Officials in India (October 23, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3057602 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3057602

Aditya Dasgupta (Contact Author)

University of California, Merced ( email )

P.O. Box 2039
Merced, CA 95344
United States

Devesh Kapur

University of Pennsylvania - Center for the Advanced Study of India ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/casi/about/devesh.html

Center for Global Development

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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