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Information, accountability and perceptions of public sector programme success: A conjoint experiment among bureaucrats in Africa

Harris, A; Seim, B; Sigman, R; (2020) Information, accountability and perceptions of public sector programme success: A conjoint experiment among bureaucrats in Africa. Development Policy Review , 38 (5) pp. 594-612. 10.1111/dpr.12450. Green open access

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Abstract

Motivation: Whether public sector organizations implement programmes successfully is a key concern of development scholars and practitioners across the world. While many studies purport a link between social accountability and public sector performance, this relationship has been difficult to study empirically. / Purpose: This article examines whether bureaucrats anticipate that public sector programmes with information‐sharing mechanisms, including visibility, transparency and collaboration, will be successful in terms of effectiveness and limiting corruption. / Approach and Methods: The paper uses a conjoint survey experiment administered to thousands of bureaucrats across three African countries: Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. By asking bureaucrats – those with insider knowledge of government programme operations—about two hypothetical programmes with randomly assigned characteristics, we examine whether bureaucrats associate opportunities for monitoring by citizens and civil society groups with the success of public sector programmes. / Findings: Across diverse country and organizational contexts, bureaucrats consistently attribute high probabilities of success to programmes that are visible to the public, transparent in their implementation, and open to collaboration with civil society. Moreover, the inclusion of any one of these information‐sharing mechanisms can independently increase the perceived likelihood of success. The findings hold across institutional contexts and diverse subgroups of bureaucrats surveyed. / Policy Implications: To promote success in the implementation of public sector development programmes, officials should look for ways to increase the visibility of their programmes, set requirements for frequent public updates on programme progress, and build in opportunities for outside groups to collaborate.

Type: Article
Title: Information, accountability and perceptions of public sector programme success: A conjoint experiment among bureaucrats in Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/dpr.12450
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/dpr.12450
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Public sector, accountability, transparency, monitoring, Africa
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081574
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