Rewarding bureaucrats: Can incentives improve public sector performance?

Effective public service delivery in developing countries ultimately depends on the performance of public sector workers. What can governments do to recruit, motivate, and retain the best candidates? This brief explores the role for performance rewards to improve public service delivery.

Improving public sector performance is an important priority for many developing countries. Governments play a critical role in providing public goods needed to support economic growth, such as health, education, infrastructure, and property rights – and the effectiveness of these services crucially depends on the performance of the people who deliver them.

This brief synthesises lessons from the latest research on strategies to improve the performance of public sector workers, including government administrators and frontline service providers, such as teachers and health workers. The focus is on strategies for recruiting and motivating the public sector workforce.