Motivating Bureaucrats With Non-Monetary Incentives When State Capacity Is Weak: Evidence From Large-Scale Field Experiments in Peru

98 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2019

See all articles by Andrew Dustan

Andrew Dustan

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics

Stanislao Maldonado

Universidad del Rosario

Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte

Innovations for Poverty Action

Date Written: December 22, 2018

Abstract

We study how non-monetary incentives, motivated by recent advances in behavioral economics, affect civil servant performance in a context where state capacity is weak. We collaborated with a government agency in Peru to experimentally vary the content of text messages targeted to civil servants in charge of a school maintenance program. These messages incorporate behavioral insights in dimensions related to information provision, social norms, and weak forms of monitoring and auditing. We find that these messages are a very cost-effective strategy to enforce compliance with national policies among civil servants. We further study the role of social norms and the salience of social benefits in a follow-up experiment and explore the external validity of our original results by implementing a related experiment with civil servants from a different national program. The findings of these new experiments support our original results and provide additional insights regarding the context in which these incentives may work. Our results highlight the importance of carefully designed non-monetary incentives as a tool to improve civil servant performance when the state lacks institutional mechanisms to enforce compliance.

Keywords: state capacity, non-monetary incentives, civil servants

JEL Classification: C93, D73, O15

Suggested Citation

Dustan, Andrew and Maldonado, Stanislao and Hernandez-Agramonte, Juan Manuel, Motivating Bureaucrats With Non-Monetary Incentives When State Capacity Is Weak: Evidence From Large-Scale Field Experiments in Peru (December 22, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3307140 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3307140

Andrew Dustan

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States

Stanislao Maldonado (Contact Author)

Universidad del Rosario ( email )

Calle 12 No. 6-25
Bogota, DC
Colombia

Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

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