The importance of political selection in the performance of government bureaucracies


Speaker:Stuti Khemani, Development Research Group, The World Bank
Date: Friday 20 November 2020
Time: 14.00
Location: Online via Zoom (link available frm

Further details

Economic theory of public bureaucracies as complex organizations predicts that bureaucratic productivity can be shaped by the selection of different types of agents, beyond their incentives. This theory applies to the institutions of local government in the developing world where nationally appointed bureaucrats and locally elected politicians together manage the implementation of public policies and the delivery of services. Yet, we have no evidence on whether (which) selection traits of these bureaucrats and politicians matters for the performance of local bureaucracies. This paper addresses the empirical gap by gathering rich data in an institutional context, of district governments in Uganda, which is typical of the local state in poor countries. We measure traits such as integrity, altruism, personality, and public service motivation of bureaucrats and politicians. We find robust evidence that higher integrity among local politicians is associated with substantively better delivery of public health services by district bureaucracies. This evidence contributes to better understanding the interaction between bureaucracies and elected politicians, an area of work that is important for building state capacity to pursue good public policies.