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Development Discussion Paper
Losing Prosociality in the Quest for Talent? Sorting, Selection, and Productivity in the Delivery of Public Services
Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera and Scott Lee July 2014
Paper No' EOPP 065:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J24; 015; M54; D82

We embed a field experiment in a nationwide recruitment drive for nurses in Zambia to test whether career benefits attract talent at the expense of prosocial motivation. We randomize the offer of career benefits at the recruitment stage. In line with common wisdom, treatment attracts less prosocial applicants. However, the trade-off only exists at low levels of talent; the marginal applicants in treatment are more talented and equally pro-social. These are hired, and the perform better at every step of the chain; they deliver more services, promote institutional childbirth and reduce child malnutrition by 25% in the communities they serve.