The effectiveness of government bureaucracy: A study of the Ghanaian civil service

  • The effective functioning of the public sector is crucial for economic growth. This project, requested by the Head of Ghana’s Civil Service, assessed the link between management practices and productivity in the public sector to inform reforms.
  • The study found that granting civil servants more autonomy is associated with more effective public organisations, but management practices related to providing incentives or stricter monitoring of employees are associated with less effective organisations.
  • The findings are already being used by the Civil Service to influence management and human resources policies

An effective bureaucracy is crucial for public service delivery, which in turn impacts the productivity of the manufacturing sector, the agricultural sector, and human capital.

IGC researchers surveyed nearly 3,000 civil servants and assessed over 3,600 projects across every ministry and department in Ghana’s central government to study the link between management and productivity in the public sector.

The study found large differences in management practices and project completion rates across organisations within Ghana’s public sector. It also found that granting bureaucrats more autonomy is associated with more effective bureaucracies (i.e., more projects being completed).

Surprisingly, researchers found that management practices related to providing incentives or stricter monitoring of employees are associated with less effective bureaucracy. The researchers had previously found the same pattern in a study of Nigeria’s Federal Civil Service, suggesting that the focus of civil service reforms on introducing stronger incentives for bureaucrats could backfire.

Ghana’s Head of Civil Service stated that the government is already using the evidence to influence policy on management and human resources practices, and implementing a training programme based on the findings of this study.

A follow-on IGC project is using the project findings to further design a training programme to improve the productivity of civil service employees and evaluate its impact on participants.

Outputs