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Abstract:

Public Economics Programme Discussion Paper
Management of Bureaucrats and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service
Imran Rasul and Daniel Rogger October 2013
Paper No' PEP 20:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: H00; H11; J33; J38; M1; O20


Tags: autonomy; bureaucracy; multi-tasking; performance evaluation

We study how the management practices that bureaucrats operate under, correlate to the quantity and quality of public services delivered. We do so in a developing country context, exploiting data from the Nigerian Civil Service linking public sector organizations to the projects they are responsible for. For each of 4700 projects, we have hand coded independent engineering assessments of each project’s completion rate and delivered quality. We supple- ment this information with a survey to elicit management practices for bureaucrats in the 63 civil service organizations responsible for these projects, following the approach of Bloom and Van Reenen[2007]. Management practices matter: a one standard deviation increase in autonomy for bureaucrats corresponds to significantly higher project completion rates of 18%; a one standard deviation increase in practices related to incentives and monitoring corresponds to significantly lower project completion rates of 14%. We provide evidence that the negative impacts of practices related to incentive provision/monitoring arise because bureaucrats multi-task and incentives are poorly targeted, and because these management practices capture elements of subjective performance evaluation that further leave scope for dysfunctional responses from bureaucrats. The backdrop to these results, where 38% of projects are never started, implies there are potentially large gains to marginally changing management practices for bureaucrats.