Researching the impact of manager characteristics in bureaucracies

Project Active since State

High-quality bureaucracy and effective public service delivery have been shown to be fundamental ingredients of growth and development.  Accordingly, the Government of Bangladesh has made a priority of improving government effectiveness and administrative capacity, as stated in their 7th five-year plan published in April 2015.  In this plan for 2021, recruitment, training and performance monitoring of civil servants are placed at the core of a new Civil Servants Act currently being drafted.

Despite the importance of effective public service delivery for citizen welfare and governments’ fiscal balance, the literature studying the precise mechanisms linking management practices in bureaucracies and good public outcomes is still very scarce. A few recent studies have highlighted that small differences in management practices could have large potential impacts on project outcomes (see for example Rasul and Rogger, 2015).  However, this literature deals with management practices at the organisation level, leaving the impacts of individual managers largely unexplored.

In this study, we provide rigorous quantitative evidence of the impact of managers and their characteristics on the implementation of public projects in Bangladesh. In particular, we:

  • Collect detailed data about the implementation of public projects completed between 2003 and 2014 by the Government of Bangladesh, including the identity of the personnel in charge of managing these projects.
  • Construct quantitative measures of implementation outcomes, focusing mainly on timely completion, budget compliance and quality of the public service delivered.
  • Assess whether managers actually matter for the implementation outcomes of the projects they are in charge of.
  • Correlate the characteristics of managers with project implementation outcomes.

The results will allow us to draw initial conclusions about the relation between human resources and efficient project implementation, ultimately hoping to inform the civil service reform currently ongoing in Bangladesh.