Managing bureaucracy to improve public service delivery

Data set Political Economy and State

We study how the management practices under which public sector bureaucrats operate, correlate to the quantity and quality of public services delivered.

We do so in a developing country context, exploiting data from the Nigerian Civil Service linking public sector organizations to the individual projects they are responsible for. For each of 4700 projects, we have hand coded independent engineering assessments of each project’s completion rate and delivered quality. We supplement this information with a survey we conducted to elicit management practices for bureaucrats in each of the 63 civil service organizations responsible for these projects, following the approach of Bloom and Van Reenen [2007]. We find management practices related to autonomy significantly increase project completion rates and project quality; management practices related to performance-based incentives significantly decrease project completion rates and project quality. We then document: (i) how the impacts of autonomy vary by project and organizational characteristics following Aghion and Tirole [1997]; (ii) whether the negative impacts of performance related management practices are driven by issues related to project complexity/multi-tasking, and bureaucrats operating under multiple principals. Finally we provide evidence on how each dimension of management practice interplays with bureaucrat characteristics, such as their tenure, intrinsic motivation and perceptions of organizational corruption. Our findings provide among the first evidence to quantify the potential gains to public service delivery arising from marginal changes in how civil service bureaucrats are managed.

“The data sits under “”supporting information”” at the bottom of the page.
The replication materials provided with this paper are:
1a) RasulRogger_EJ_2016_Management_Project.dta – Stata data file with data on projects required for replication
1b) RasulRogger_EJ_2016_Management_Organisation.dta – Stata data file with data on organisations required for replication
2) – Stata do file with all required commands for replication of data

Please note that due to privacy concerns, the PIs cannot release further data on civil servants used in this paper beyond that included in the above data sets. Given the hierarchical nature of the organisations they are working with, a small number of demographic details allow identification of the individuals interviewed. They committed to all officials interviewed that their anonymity would be guaranteed. This mainly affects Table 6, for which replication data is not provided.