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Improving Police Performance in Rajasthan, India: Experimental Evidence on Incentives, Managerial Autonomy and Training

Author

Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Raghabendra Chattopadhyay
  • Esther Duflo
  • Daniel Keniston
  • Nina Singh

Abstract

The role of good management practices in organizations has recently been emphasized. Do the same principles also apply in government organizations, even the most bureaucratic and hierarchical of them? And can skilled, motivated managers identify how to improve these practices, or is there a role for outsiders to help them in this task? Two unique large-scale randomized trials conducted in collaboration with the state police of Rajasthan, India sought to increase police efficiency and improve interactions with the public. In a sample of 162 police stations serving almost 8 million people, the first experiment tested four interventions recommended by police reform panels: limitations of arbitrary transfers, rotation of duty assignments and days off, increased community involvement, and on-duty training. Field experience motivated a novel fifth intervention: “decoy” visits by field officers posing as citizens attempting to register cases, which gave constables incentives to behave more professionally. Only two of these, training and decoy visits, had robust impacts. The other three, which would have reduced middle managers’ autonomy, were poorly implemented and ineffective. Building upon these findings, we designed a second experiment that provided explicit incentives to police officers to carry out sobriety traffic checkpoints and did not rely on middle managers. Linking good performance with the promise of a transfer from the reserve barracks to a desirable police station posting, these incentives worked within existing organizational constraints and had very large effects on performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Daniel Keniston & Nina Singh, 2012. "Improving Police Performance in Rajasthan, India: Experimental Evidence on Incentives, Managerial Autonomy and Training," NBER Working Papers 17912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17912
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Baird & Aislinn Bohren & Berk Ozler & Craig McIntosh, 2014. "Designing Experiments to Measure Spillover Effects," Working Papers 2014-11, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. Ana María Ibáñez & Amy Ritterbusch & Catherine Rodríguez, 2017. "Impact of a Judicial System Reform on Police Behavior: Evidence on Juvenile Crime in Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015428, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    3. Pritchett, Lant & Samji, Salimah & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2012. "It's All about MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ('e') to Crawl the Design Space," WIDER Working Paper Series 104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Alexander Libman, 2012. "Learning to Be Different: Quantitative Research in Economics and Political Science," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 3(62), December.
    5. Guido Friebel & Michael Kosfeld & Gerd Thielmann, 2016. "Trust the Police? Self-Selection of Motivated Agents into the German Police Force," CESifo Working Paper Series 6245, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Juan Felipe García & Daniel Mejia & Daniel Ortega, 2013. "Police Reform, Training and Crime: Experimental evidence from Colombia´s Plan Cuadrantes," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010497, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    7. Esther Duflo, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," NBER Working Papers 23213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Duflo, Esther, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," CEPR Discussion Papers 11881, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis

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