Training for productivity: An experimental evaluation of civil service reform in Ghana

The Training for Productivity (TFP) project aims to improve the Ghanaian Civil Service’s capacity by designing, implementing and evaluating novel training methods for bureaucrats. The training programme will be experimentally implemented as part of broader package of training sessions coordinated by the Office of the Head of Civil Service and the Civil Service Training Centre of Ghana.

Civil service training programs typically aim to improve public sector capacity by investing in bureaucrats’ human capital. A recent World Bank review indicated it invested over $7.5 billion into such capacity building. However, evidence remains scarce on whether such training programs significantly impact the output and productivity of bureaucrats or organisations as a whole [World Bank 2016]. This proposal covers the design, implementation and evaluation of a novel training program to bureaucrats. The project builds on our earlier work with the Ghanaian civil service.

The training programme will be delivered through two components (treatment arms):

1. We will design and deliver modules on applied problem-solving as part of the pre-existing ‘Scheme of Service’ training regime. These individual-based training modules teach bureaucrats simple practices that can improve individual and team productivity. The training programme helps them internalise these practices through applied exercises such as role-playing, simulations, and self-benchmarking.

2. Follow-up half-day training events with selected officers together with their colleagues in their division. This group-based training intervention is designed to improve the actual implementation of new practices imparted during the individual-based training modules, and generate collective ownership of these new practices.

In addition, we are undertaking complementary qualitative research. This qualitative component is embedded into the randomised trial and will shed light onto the mechanisms through which the training impacts the generation, vocalisation, and implementation of work process improvements in Ghana’s Civil Service.

Our central research question is, ‘Does training bureaucrats improve management and productivity in Ghana’s Civil Service?’. The findings of the project will feed directly into the work of the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of Ghana, which requested the project and with whom we are working closely.

Outputs