Engaging policy audiences

Informing civil servants to make better decisions

By 28/03/2019

A new article in VoxDev by Daniel Rogger (Research Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank) and Ravi Somani (PhD candidate, University College London and Doctoral Fellow, World Bank Bureaucracy Lab) will be of interest to anyone working in development research:

“Incentivising civil servants to gather evidence before making decisions significantly reduced errors in the beliefs of Ethiopian government officials”

“We all make mistakes. An increasing number of studies have shown that everyday decisions in a variety of contexts are plagued by random errors, biased or unbiased. Kahneman et al. (2016) document how employees from the same private organisations make very different assessments of the same customers. They demonstrate how deviations from objective evaluations go on to be costly to the firms they study. Various studies document how professional forecasters make large but predictable mistakes (Ehrbeck and Waldmann 1996, Andrade and Le Bihan 2013), costing those that follow their advice.”

“These errors have detrimental consequences for individuals, but can have society wide effects when they occur in the public sector, where finite resources are allocated across citizens. So how large are the errors that public officials make?”

The article goes on to look at:

  • Making informed decisions in the public sector
  • Where do civil servants get their information?
  • How much noise is there in public officials’ beliefs?
  • What can we do about it?

Read the full article in VoxDev.


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