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Biased Policy Professionals

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  • DERCON, Stefan
  • BANURI, Sheheryar
  • GAURI, Varun

Abstract

Although the decisions of policy professionals are often more consequential than those of individuals in their private capacity, there is a dearth of studies on the biases of policy professionals: those who prepare and implement policy on behalf of elected politicians. Experiments conducted on a novel subject pool of development policy professionals (public servants of the World Bank and the Department for International Development in the UK) show that policy professionals are indeed subject to decision making traps, including the effects of framing outcomes as losses or gains, and most strikingly, confirmation bias driven by ideological predisposition, despite having an explicit mission to promote evidence-informed and impartial decision making. These findings should worry policy professionals and their principals in governments and large organizations, as well as citizens themselves. A further experiment, in which policy professionals engage in discussion, shows that deliberation may be able to mitigate the effects of some of these biases.

Suggested Citation

  • DERCON, Stefan & BANURI, Sheheryar & GAURI, Varun, 2018. "Biased Policy Professionals," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-81, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hiasdp:hias-e-81
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Dustan & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte & Stanislao Maldonado, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale," Natural Field Experiments 00664, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Jonas Hjort & Diana Moreira & Gautam Rao & Juan Francisco Santini, 2021. "How Research Affects Policy: Experimental Evidence from 2,150 Brazilian Municipalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(5), pages 1442-1480, May.
    3. Donato Masciandaro & Davide Romelli, 2019. "Behavioral Monetary Policymaking: Economics, Political Economy and Psychology," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Behavioral Finance The Coming of Age, chapter 9, pages 285-329, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Atheendar S. Venkataramani, 2021. "Rigor, Relevance, And Researcher Independence In Evidence‐Based Policymaking," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 40(2), pages 660-663, March.
    5. Dustan, Andrew & Maldonado, Stanislao & Hernandez-Agramonte, Juan Manuel, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale field experiments in Peru," MPRA Paper 90952, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Wittels, Annabelle Sophie, 2020. "The effect of politician-constituent conflict on bureaucratic responsiveness under varying information frames," SocArXiv 4x8q2, Center for Open Science.
    7. Atheendar S. Venkataramani, 2021. "Rigor, Relevance, And Researcher Independence In Evidence‐Based Policymaking," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 40(2), pages 659-662, March.
    8. Aisha J Ali & Javier Fuenzalida & Margarita Gómez & Martin J Williams, 2021. "Four lenses on people management in the public sector: an evidence review and synthesis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 335-366.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Biases; deision making; policy professionals; framing; confirmation bias; behavioural economics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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