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Development Discussion Paper
Motivating Knowledge Agents: Can Incentive Pay Overcome Social Distance?
Erlend Berg, Maitreesh Ghatak, R Manjula, D Rajasekhar and Sanchari Roy March 2013
Paper No' EOPP 042:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: C93, D83, I38, M52, O15, Z13

Tags: public services; information constraints; incentive pay; social proximity; knowledge transmission

This paper studies the interaction of incentive pay and social distance in the dissemination of information. We analyse theoretically as well as empirically the effect of incentive pay when agents have pro-social objectives, but also preferences over dealing with one social group relative to another. In a randomised field experiment undertaken across 151 villages in South India, local agents were hired to spread information about a public health insurance programme. Relative to at pay, incentive pay improves knowledge transmission to households that are socially distant from the agent, but not to households similar to the agent.