(publications and working papers [WP], by section, in reverse chronological order)
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A burgeoning area of social science research examines how state capabilities and bureaucratic effectiveness shape economic development. This paper is among the first scientific replications of a study on the effective functioning of bureaucracies in developing country contexts. We build on our earlier work linking management practices for middle-tier bureaucrats and public sector output in the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria [Rasul and Rogger 2016], aiming to establish the scientific replicability of those findings in a similar institutional and economic context: the Civil Service of Ghana. At the same time, the replication probes the robustness of our earlier findings to methodological differences in how management practices, and bureaucratic output and effectiveness, are measured. Our key findings are that in both civil services, granting bureaucrats more autonomy is positively associated with the effectiveness of bureaucracies, while management practices related to the provision of incentives or monitoring are negatively associated with their effectiveness. By shedding light on where pockets of good functioning exist within generally weak political institutional structures, the results have important practical and methodological consequences for the future study of bureaucracies and state capability.
The International Growth Centre Policy Brief can be accessed here.
Who are the civil servants that serve poor people in the developing world? This paper uses direct surveys of civil servants - the professional body of administrators who manage government policy - and their organisations from Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines, to highlight key aspects of their characteristics and experience of civil service life. Civil servants in the developing world face myriad challenges to serving the world’s poor, from limited facilities to significant political interference in their work. There are a number of commonalities across service environments, and the paper tries to summarise these in a series of ‘stylized facts’ of the civil service in the developing world. At the same time, the particular challenges faced by a public official vary substantially across and within countries and regions. For example, measured management practices differ widely across local governments of a single state in Nigeria. Using micro-level surveys of civil servants allows us to document these differences, build better models of the public sector, and make more informed policy choices.
An online appendix provides an overview of the major civil servant surveys of the last decade or so.
The World Bank Working Paper Version (8051) can be accessed here.
My associated 'Governance for Development' blog is here.
My associated 'VoxDev' blog is here.
This paper explores the use of public appointments as an incentive for public action. In particular, it assesses whether making someone an honorary public official within a community shifts their identity or broader incentives towards the community’s aggregate welfare. We present a model of public appointments and test its predictions in a real-world appointment scheme focussed on residential streets in a borough of London, UK. We find that pure public appointments, with no accompanying increase in powers, increases citizens' efforts towards the production of street cleansing and beautification on their respective streets. Incentives accompanying the appointments turn out to be necessary for us to be able to detect substantive changes in the provision of these local public goods and on measures of social capital amongst neighbours. The nature of accompanying incentives influences the outcome of the appointment scheme. A regime that emphasizes citizens' identity as change agents in the community is more effective in improving citizen satisfaction with their neighbourhood, whilst incentives provided at the community level generate greater social cohesion amongst neighbours. The paper provides some of the first evidence of the incentive regimes that might underlie long-term service contracts between citizens and the state, and highlights the potential boundaries of citizen involvement in delivering public services.
An Institute for Fiscal Studies Observation summarises our findings on the scheme
An Institute for Fiscal Studies Briefing Note provides the policy version of the paper
The ESRC Policy Briefing on the project
The Lambeth Street Champions Scheme web site, showcasing the scale up of the Scheme across the Borough
We study how the management practices bureaucrats operate under correlate to the quantity of public services delivered, using data from the Nigerian Civil Service. We have hand-coded independent engineering assessments of 4700 project completion rates. We supplement this with a management survey in the bureaucracies responsible for these projects, building on Bloom and Van Reenen . Management practices matter: increasing bureaucrats’ autonomy is positively associated with completion rates, yet practices related to incentives/monitoring of bureaucrats are negatively associated with completion rates. Our evidence provides new insights on the importance of management in public bureaucracies in a developing country setting.
Winner of the Deutsche Bahn Prize for Outstanding Research in Organisations and Management
In the news: World Bank blog post by Markus Goldstein, Slate Magazine article by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, Vox EU article
We document the correlation between the workplace diversity in bureaucratic organizations and public service delivery. We do so in the context of Nigeria, where ethnicity is a salient form of self-identity. We thus expand the empirical management literature highlighting beneficial effects of workplace diversity, that has focused on private sector firms operating in high-income settings. Our analysis combines two data sources: (i) a survey to over 4000 bureaucrats eliciting their ethnic identities; (ii) independent engineering assessments of completion rates for 4700 public sector projects. The ethnic diversity of bureaucracies matters positively: a one standard deviation increase in the ethnic diversity of bureaucrats corresponds to 9% higher completion rates. In line with the management literature from private sector firms in high-income countries, this evidence highlights a potentially positive side of ethnic diversity in public sector organizations, in the context of Sub Saharan Africa.
Both politicians and bureaucrats are viewed as critically important agents in growth and public welfare. This paper investigates the causes and consequences of interactions between these agents, along two key margins: which bureaucrats a politician delegates the delivery of public projects to, and the incentives that politicians provide to those bureaucrats. To investigate these issues, I assemble a novel data set from Nigeria, which combines the political careers of politicians, measures of their interactions with bureaucrats, and credible audits of the projects they deliver. I find that politicians facing high levels of political competition are more likely to (1) delegate the implementation of public projects in their constituency to more autonomous organizations; and (2) provide informal incentives to bureaucrats in those organizations. Guided by a moral hazard model, I assess the separate impacts of the delegation and incentive margins using an instrumental variables strategy. I find that delegation to more productive bureaucrats is the key channel through which politicians improve the bureaucracy's output when faced with high levels of political competition. The results have implications for the design of organizations that regulate politicians' interactions with the bureaucracy.
[WP] Daniel Rogger, How Does the Complexity of a Public Project Determine A Communities Ability to Monitor the Bureaucracy Who Implements It?
This paper seeks to understand whether communities struggle to monitor bureaucrats on complex public projects but are more able to monitor them when the projects are less complex. I model the interactions between citizens and bureaucrats along different margins of complexity and use data from the Nigerian public sector to test the model. I find that citizens ability to hold bureaucrats to account does vary significantly with the complexity of a project.
Measurement Issues Related to Understanding the Public Service
[WP] Daniel Rogger, Public Service Rules? Method and Measurement in Public Officials Surveys
Understanding corruption in developing country governments has typically been an exercise in association. Perceptions or measures of phenomena argued to be related to corruption are used as proxy measures. A different strategy is to directly survey public officials in corrupt settings. However, large scale exercises of this kind have been unfortunately rare and there is significant scope for further surveys. This paper outlines the key issues a researcher confronts in surveying public officials, how these have been mitigated and how we might interpret what the data tells us about life in the civil service.
How does the outside world enter village life? Understanding who visits a village, and when, requires comprehensive records of visitors and their purpose. Fortunately, many rural communities keep exactly that - detailed visitor log books that record visits from external organizations. We use a sample of such books to provide a detailed picture of the outside world's engagement with villages in Tanzania. Government officials make up half of these visits, and visit most intensively at the start of the year, and at the start of the week. The top three reasons for visits are related to social services in the health, water and agriculture/environment sectors. The paper argues why visitor books are a potentially useful source of data on the experience of villagers and the activities of the public officials who serve them.
Delivering Public Services in the Developing World: Frontiers of Research
Every ten years I intend to publish an overview of research on the delivery of public services in the developing world, based on interviews with researchers and practitioners actively working in the field.
[WP] Daniel Rogger (2017), “Delivering Public Services in the Developing World: Frontiers of Research II ”
This essay presents a view of the frontiers of research on public service delivery in the developing world, based on a series of interviews with researchers and practitioners actively working in this field. It reviews how far the research literature has come since the publication of the World Development Report 2004 ten years ago. There is growing interest in expanding standard intervention-based research to determine effective methods for its delivery. However, a lack of data on the internal workings of many providers inhibits rapid progress in the development of this literature.
Daniel Rogger (2009), “Delivering Public Services in the Developing World: Frontiers of Research” Oxonomics 4:1, pp.19-24
This essay presents a view of the frontiers of research on public service delivery in the developing world, based on a series of interviews with researchers and practitioners actively working in this field. It recognizes the lasting contribution of the theoretical framework laid down by the World Development Report 2004 that emphasized accountability, and the randomized evaluations that have taken place to test and develop this theory. Research on other questions, such as those relating to the analysis of politics and the structure and organization of government, is at an earlier stage, and is likely to need a more structural approach. There are many questions still to be answered in this field.
Reports from Surveys of Civil Servants
Frequently I report the findings of surveys of civil servants to the corresponding governments in a formal report. Though these are initially for the government's themselves, five years after their completion, I will share them here.
The Presidency of Nigeria (2011) “Official Report of the 2010 Survey of Civil Servants” Abuja: Government of Nigeria (click here for the executive summary and recommendations only)
Other policy reports and outputs
Laura Litvine, Imran Rasul and Daniel Rogger (2016), “Dynamics of Public Service Delivery: Evidence from Bangladesh” BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) Policy Paper
We present the first descriptive look at dynamic spending patterns across a large representative sample of infrastructure projects, using unique project-year level panel data covering the universe of infrastructure projects conducted by the Government of Bangladesh between 2003 and 2013. This initial research allows us to draw two main preliminary conclusions: First, projects seem to follow a non-linear spending pattern, spending less in early stages of a project’s life, and more in the latter half of a project’s implementation period. This is true for both complete and incomplete projects, and shows that underspends do not appear only because projects get abandoned, but rather seem to be an issue arising early in a project’s life and surviving throughout. This suggests investigating further the planning and early life of projects. Second, when comparing complete and incomplete projects, we observe that successfully completed projects overall did better at predicting this non-linear spending trend, required smaller revisions to planned spendings, and departed less from plan throughout the life of a project. Implementation dynamics and a project’s completion status are therefore indeed correlated, and this relation should be explored further.
Emla Fitzsimons et al. (2012), “UK Development Aid” Institute for Fiscal Studies Green Budget 2012, pp. 142 - 161
In 2010, the UK government spent £8.45 billion – 0.57% of Gross National Income (GNI) – on Overseas Development Aid (ODA), mainly through the Department for International Development. This is set to rise to £12 billion in 2013 in order to fulfil the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA, something that is particularly controversial against the backdrop of fiscal austerity for almost all other areas of public expenditure. The decision to increase aid spending raises some obvious questions and concerns.
Anthony Costello et al. (2009), “Managing the health effects of climate change” The Lancet 373: 9676, pp. 1693 - 1733 (see here for other associated documents)
Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk. During this century, earth’s average surface temperature rises are likely to exceed the safe threshold of 2°C above preindustrial average temperature. Rises will be greater at higher latitudes, with medium-risk scenarios predicting 2–3°C rises by 2090 and 4–5°C rises in northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia. In this report, we have outlined the major threats - both direct and indirect - to global health from climate change through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events, and population growth and migration. Although vector-borne diseases will expand their reach and death tolls, especially among elderly people, will increase because of heatwaves, the indirect effects of climate change on water, food security, and extreme climatic events are likely to have the biggest effect on global health.
Pam Meadows and Daniel Rogger (2005), “Low-Income Homeowners in Britain: Descriptive Analysis” Public policy paper for the UK Department of Work and Pensions
Albert Ohams and Daniel Rogger, “Water Get Enemy: The Story of Delivering Public Services in the Developing World”
This is a fictional story, in the form of a graphic novel, that sketches the passage of a public project through a developing country government. It aims to introduce the reader to the challenges of delivering public services in the developing world.
Alex Armand et al. (2009), 'Assessing the Impact of Infant Mortality upon the Fertility Decisions of Mothers in India', Aenorm 64:17 (chosen as the best overall paper submitted to the Econometric Game 2009 judges)
My 'Guiding principles for researchers working with government in the developing world' outlines my commitments to the research community and to the governments with whom I work in the course of that research.
'Why Interdisciplinarity?', Institute for Global Health Annual Report 2008/9
Interdisciplinary collaboration has recently been attracting increasing support as an approach to research. Universities are setting up interdisciplinary institutes and schools. Funding bodies are earmarking increasingly large sums to collaborative research projects. Historically hailed as a paradigm but underfunded, interdisciplinarity finally seems to be hitting the financial big time.
'Making the Most of Being a Student at UCL Economics Department', Equilibrium newspaper November 2008 (Equilibrium is the UCL economics department in-house magazine, and archived issues can be found here)
'ODI fellows: Developing or Damaging?', ODI fellows newsletter, October 2006
World Bank blog page, listing my blog posts for the World Bank
VoxDev blog page, listing my blog posts for VoxDev
Archive of blog posts/posted articles on public administration
Letters to my generation, a blog on philosophy
Adventures in interdisciplinarity, a 'blogette' on my experiences of interdisciplinarity
Baby checklists, an essay on how checklists helped my wife and I with the first few months of looking after our baby
Daniel Rogger (2008), "For a moment of confusion: The dismal lives of economic agents", Revise and Resubmit, Journal of Universal Rejection