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    Harvard Kennedy School

    DEV325M, January 2018

    Policy and Bureaucracy: Opening the Black box of Governance

    Faculty Adnan Khan Office TBA Email A.Q.Khan@lse.ac.uk Office Hours TBA. Appointments also available by request. Lectures Daily lectures from 9-1 pm (with break) on January 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9, 2018 Syllabus The course is designed to engage development professionals and anyone interested in public policy in thinking more deeply about policy challenges and finding feasible solutions. It uses principal-agent model as an analytical framework to look at incentive mechanisms facing bureaucracies and explores how best to recruit, motivate and monitor bureaucrats. Since policy formulation and implementation are embedded in politics, it covers political economy of government performance and explores conditions under which governments can be held accountable for performance. The final part of the course explores opportunities for pro development policy change. It looks at role of evidence in improving policy outcomes, ways of improving organizational capacity for creating, identifying and building on opportunities for policy change, and ways of making politics work for improved performance. The course is aimed at anyone who is interested in public policy, development, and building more effective governments that are accountable to their citizens. It balances theory and practice and draws on policy questions and examples from the real world. Bureaucratic performance matters in multiple ways since policy failures often happen not only because of failure to adopt better policies but, perhaps more importantly, also because of failure to successfully implement public policies and programs. Identifying opportunities for policy change thus requires an understanding of the internal working of the state and of bureaucratic performance. The course brings the world of practice into the world of analytics. The instructor brings to the class many years of experience as a bureaucrat, as an activist and as a researcher and catalyzer of policy-relevant research.

    Requirements and Evaluation Attendance: An alert, inquisitive presence in each and every class is mandatory. The course involves lectures in the morning and group readings/work in the afternoon. Some of the afternoon sessions are mandatory while others are strongly advised. Readings: Students are expected to have completed the critical readings before class and required readings after class and review these in the afternoon sessions. Note that there are required readings for the first day of class.


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    Class Participation 10% Group Project 40% Individual Essay 50%

    Group project Involves a group presentation on 8 January. Individual essay is a 3,000 words paper that applies the concepts and framework of the course to a specific topic with submission deadline being Monday 22 January 2018.

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    Session 1: Rethinking Policy and Bureaucracy - Principal-Agent Framework

    Key Themes: Public policy and bureaucracy, policy failures Changing perspectives on the role of bureaucracy moving beyond Weber Principal-Agent Model as a framework for examining bureaucratic performance

    Key Questions:

    Why does performance of bureaucracies matter?

    Why is the principal-agent model a good framework for examining and improving bureaucratic performance?

    Critical Readings:

    Thomas B. Pepinsky, Jan H. Perskalla, and Audrey Sacks. 2017. Bureaucracy and Service Delivery. Annual Review Political Science. 20:249-68. [p. 1-9]

    Cristina Corduneanu-Huc, Alexander Hamilton and Issel Masses Ferrer. 2012. Understanding Policy Change: How to Apply Political Economy Concepts in Practice (Washington D.C.: World Bank Publications) [Chapter 1]

    Required Readings:

    Innovations for Successful Societies. 2010. Case Study. Rejuvenating the Public Registry: Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008. Princeton University, USA.

    Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock. 2017. Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action. Oxford University Press. [Chapter 1]

    Optional Readings:

    Jan Banning, Bureaucracy: A Global Portrait of Red Tape, Photo exhibition. Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, BBC TV series; The Complete Yes Minister book by Jonathan

    Lynn and Antony Jay, BBC Books. 1988.

    James Q. Wilson. 1989. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why they Do it (New York: Basic Books) [Chapters 1-2]

    J-PAL Policy Briefcase. 2013. Truth-Telling in Third Party Audits. Poverty Action Lab. Ernesto Dal Bo and Frederico Finan. 2016. At the Intersection: A Review of Institutions in Economic

    Development. EDI Working Paper Series WP16/11.01 Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. 2011. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to

    Fight Global Poverty, Public Affairs (New York) [Chapter 4]

    Session 2: Selection and Bureaucratic Performance

    Key Themes:

    Principal-Agent Model and Personnel Economics Selection and Recruitment: Signaling and screening models Role of ability, motivation, and personalities


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    Key Questions:

    How to best recruit, motivate and train bureaucrats?

    Critical Readings:

    Ernesto Dal Bo and Frederico Finan. 2016. At the Intersection: A Review of Institutions in Economic Development. EDI Working Paper Series WP16/11.01. [p. 24-30]

    Finan, Frederico, Benjamin Olken, and Rohini Pande. 2015. The Personnel Economics of the State, Prepared for the Handbook of Field Experiments. [p. 7-13]

    Required Readings:

    Edward P. Lazear and Michael Gibbs. 2009. Personnel Economics in Practice (John Wiley & Sons Inc) [Chapter 2, 9]

    Optional Readings:

    Dixit Avinash. 2002. Incentives and Organizations in the Public Sector, Journal of Human Resources XXXVII

    Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera and Scott Lee. 2016. Do-Gooders and Go-Getters: Selection and Performance in Public Service Delivery. Working Paper.

    Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Kelsey Jack. "No Margin, No Mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Public Services Delivery." Journal of Public Economics View Details

    Dal B, Ernesto, Frederico Finan, and Martn A. Rossi. 2013. Strengthening State Capabilities: The Role of Financial Incentives in the Call to Public Service. Quarterly Journal of Economics 128 (3): 1169-1218.

    Short Documentary: Health Workers in Zambia

    Session 3: Incentives and Bureaucratic Performance

    Key Themes:

    Incentive structures for bureaucratic performance o Performance rewards o Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation

    Non-financial rewards and broad motivators for performance

    Key Questions:

    When do performance rewards improve performance? When do they fail? Do these crowd out intrinsic motivation?

    When do non-financial rewards and broad motivators for performance work? What are optimal incentive structures for bureaucratic performance?

    Critical Readings:

    Ernesto Dal Bo and Frederico Finan. 2016. At the Intersection: A Review of Institutions in Economic Development. EDI Working Paper Series WP16/11.01 [p. 30-33]

    Finan, Frederico, Benjamin Olken, and Rohini Pande. 2015. The Personnel Economics of the State,


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    Prepared for the Handbook of Field Experiments. [p. 20-24] J-PAL Policy Briefcase. 2016. Paying for Performance. Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. MIT.


    Required Readings: Chaudhury, Nazmul, Jeffrey Hammer, Michael Kremer, Karthik Muralidharan, and F. Halsey Rogers.

    2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries", Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 20(1), pp. 91116.

    Optional Readings:

    Duflo, Esther, Rema Hanna, and Stephen P. Ryan. 2012. "Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School." American Economic Review, vol. 102(4), pp. 1241 78.

    Muralidharan Karthik, Venkatesh Sundararaman. 2011. Teacher Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from India Journal of Political Economy, vol. 119, issue 1, pages 39 77

    Khan Adnan, Asim Khwaja, and Benjamin Olken. 2016. Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Performance Pay for Tax Collectors, Quarterly Journal of Economics.

    Khan, Adnan,


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