The impact of incentives and monitoring on the performance of public extension staff

Project Active from to State

Last year, the World Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture of Punjab, Pakistan worked together to provide to all field workers smartphones equipped with a monitoring system called Agri-Smart. We are now working jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Punjab, Pakistan, to introduce and evaluate performance-based incentives using the Agri-Smart system, to reward greater outreach efforts by field staff. The goal is to improve agricultural productivity which is seen as critical for both poverty reduction and growth.

The primary research question is how can different bonus schemes for agriculture extension workers improve service outreach and quality to meet the needs of farmers?

Answering these questions will significantly advance our knowledge in the context of a sector critical to economic development in Pakistan. It contributes to the literature on performance pay in the public sector by generating a comparative impact assessment of objective and subjective bonus schemes. In particular, our project relates the literature on “multi-tasking and performance pay” and on “monitoring the monitor”.

This project directly supports the work of the Government of Punjab, Pakistan, overall, and the Ministry of Agriculture in particular, in their effort to improve service delivery through improved systems of client outreach and higher quality service provision by public sector employees. For the Ministry of Agriculture, this entails improving the performance of all staff providing advisory services to farmers—in particular, field staff, who are on the front lines of this effort.

Our project studies the impact of transforming the existing payment of allowances in the Agricultural extension system into an incentive-based payment system linked to performance. We will randomly assign tehsils to different performance-based bonus schemes that vary in terms of objectivity and alignment of staff incentives with the Department’s interest. The impact of the various performance systems will be measured using data from farmer call back surveys, surveys of agricultural extension staff, data collected via Agri-Smart and data collected by various units in the Department of Agriculture of Punjab.