It is increasingly recognised that improved technical or financial capacity does not automatically translate into improved service delivery performance or better development results. Understanding incentives has been identified as a key variable in any thinking about motivation, behaviour, capacity and institutions involved in service delivery. Central to this is how to incentivise positive change in both the formal and informal institutions that affect service delivery.
Tavakoli, H., Simson, R., Tilley, H., & Booth, D. (2013). Unblocking results: using aid to address governance constraints in public service delivery. London: Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
What can be learned from aid packages that appear to have successfully engaged with governance constraints in public service delivery? This ODI report draws on four case studies from Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Successful approaches include: a) strengthening government prioritisation in addressing implementation gaps; and b) brokering arrangements to promote collective action and local problem solving. It also includes facilitating the realisation of six enabling factors: 1) identifying and seizing windows of opportunity; 2) focusing on reforms with tangible political pay-offs; 3) building on what exists to implement legal mandates; 4) moving beyond reliance on policy dialogue; 5) facilitating problem solving and local collective action by bearing the transaction costs; and 6) adaptation through learning.
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Herbert, S. (2014). Incentivising governments to improve service delivery (Helpdesk report). Birmingham: GSDRC.
Although there is substantial research on service delivery, empirical research into how development activities incentivise better service delivery is fragmented. This report reviews the available evidence on upstream and downstream interventions to improve incentives for inclusive provision.
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Guerrero, G., Leon, J., Zapata, M., Sugimaru, C., & Cueto. S. (2012). What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review (EPPI report 2010). London: EPPI Centre.
This review analysed 9 studies looking at two interventions (i) direct interventions, where the main goal was to reduce teacher absenteeism, and (ii) indirect interventions, where reducing teacher absenteeism was an intermediate objective or a mechanism to reach the ultimate goal of improving student achievement. The findings show that direct interventions coupling monitoring systems with rewards have a positive and statistically significant effect on teacher attendance and no effect on student achievement. For indirect interventions, we found that involving the community in students’ education and providing incentives schemes for students had a positive and significant effect on teacher attendance, but neither strategy had an effect on student achievement.
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Duflo, E., Dupas, P., & Kremer, M. (2012). School Governance, Teacher Incentives, and Pupil-Teacher Ratios: Experimental Evidence from Kenyan Primary Schools (NBER Working Paper No. 17939). Cambridge, M.A.: National Bureau of Economic Research.
This study examines a program under which Kenyan Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) at randomly selected schools were funded to hire an additional teacher on an annual contract renewable conditional on performance, outside normal Ministry of Education civil-service channels, at one-quarter normal compensation levels. Test scores increased for students assigned to be taught by locally-hired contract teachers. Contract teachers had low absence rates, while centrally-hired civil-service teachers endogenously reduced their effort, and captured contract teacher positions for their relatives. Overall, there are potential dynamic benefits from supplementing a civil service system with locally-hired contract teachers brought in on a probationary basis and granted tenure conditional on performance.
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