Aug 24, 2013

What Can Experiments Tell Us About How to Improve Governance?

. . . identified 139 relevant papers grouped into three major types of policy interventions that aim to: (1) improve supply-side capabilities of governments; (2) change individual behaviour through various devices, notably incentives, and (3) improve informational asymmetries. We find that randomized controlled trials can be useful in studying the effects of some policy interventions in the governance area, but they are limited in significant ways: they are ill-equipped to study broader governance issues associated with macro-structural shifts, national level variation in institutions and political culture, and leadership. Randomized controlled trials are best for studying targeted interventions, particularly in areas of public goods provision, voting behaviour, and specific measures to address corruption and improve accountability; however, they can provide little traction on whether the intervention is transferable and ‘could work’ (and why) in other contexts, and in the longer run.
To be sure, the authors discuss relevant papers, for example
Banerjee et al. (2012) test the impact of four low-cost reforms across police stations in eleven districts in Rajasthan. Results suggest that two of these reforms – freezing staff transfers between police stations and providing in-service training in investigation skills and ‘soft’ skills like communication and leadership – were effective in improving police effectiveness and public satisfaction, while the other two reforms – placing community observers in police stations and a weekly duty rotation – were not effective. P. 10. 
Other relevant studies, like this one, are not cited. 

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