Mission driven intrinsic motivation and performance of public workers in Pakistan

Project Active from to State Effectiveness and State

Public workers in many developing countries shirk at their job and do not exert socially optimal effort. While linking financial incentives to objectively measured performance is one way to improve public services, it is not always feasible for resource-constrained countries to provide significant financial bonuses. Instead, using the intrinsic motivations of workers could provide a cheap way to get workers to improve their performance. Based on ample evidence from behavioural economics it is understood that people are driven not only by financial incentives but also by a desire to do good.

This desire to do good is a behavioural lever available with the public sector organisations to motivate their workforce. However, public organisations are bureaucracies that emphasise the importance of rules and procedures rather than the meaning and mission of the job. This project explores if a public organisation can motivate workers to improve their effort and performance by introducing an explicit mission through a participatory intervention.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan has long suffered from insurgent violence. Insecurity coupled with bureaucratic inertia led to a stalling in progress made on public health indicators such as vaccination rates (55% as per KP Health Survey 2017) and infant mortality (58 as per PDHS 2012-13). To reinvigorate the workforce with the aim of providing preventive services to all segments of the population, the health bureaucracy of the province needs to design an optimal mix of financial and non-financial incentives. As part of the effort, district-level officials in the province introduce mission and financial rewards for community health workers with the goal to improve preventive health service delivery.

Workers will be invited to participate in bi-monthly mission development workshops that will focus on providing them opportunities to deliberate over the meaning of their job in light of the organisational mission. A parallel treatment providing a financial bonus to workers based on their performance will provide a benchmark to study the efficacy of mission-driven motivations. This project can provide evidence for a cheap and scalable way of motivating the workforce in a developing country context.