IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Individuals and Organizations as Sources of State Effectiveness


  • Michael Carlos Best
  • Jonas Hjort
  • David Szakonyi


How important are bureaucrats for the productivity of the state? And to what extent do the tradeoffs between different policies depend on the implementing bureaucrats’ effectiveness? Using data on 16million public procurement purchases in Russia during 2011–2016, we show that over 40 percent of the variation in quality-adjusted prices paid—our measure of performance—is due to the individual bureaucrats and organizations that manage procurement processes. Such differences in effectiveness matter for policy design. To illustrate, we show that a common procurement policy— bid preferences for domestic suppliers—dramatically improves performance, but only when implemented by ineffective bureaucrats.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Carlos Best & Jonas Hjort & David Szakonyi, 2017. "Individuals and Organizations as Sources of State Effectiveness," NBER Working Papers 23350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23350
    Note: DEV PE POL PR

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Erica Bosio & Simeon Djankov & Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2020. "Public Procurement in Law and Practice," NBER Working Papers 27188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Carril, Rodrigo & Duggan, Mark, 2020. "The impact of industry consolidation on government procurement: Evidence from Department of Defense contracting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    3. De Rassenfosse, Gaétan & Decarolis, Francesco & Giuffrida, Leonardo Maria & Iossa, Elisabetta & Mollisi, Vincenzo & Raiteri, Emilio & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2019. "Buyers' Role in Innovation Procurement," CEPR Discussion Papers 13777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. 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.
    5. Andrey Tkachenko & Paola Valbonesi & Elena Shadrina & Gegam Shagbazian, 2019. "Efficient design of set-aside auctions for small businesses: an empirical analysis," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0240, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    6. 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.
    7. Baltrunaite, Audinga & Bovini, Giulia & Mocetti, Sauro, 2021. "Managerial Talent and Managerial Practices: Are They Complements?," CEPR Discussion Papers 16064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Adhvaryu, Achyuta & Bassi, Vittorio & Nyshadham, Anant & Tamayo, Jorge, 2020. "No Line Left Behind: Assortative Matching Inside the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 14554, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Jonas Hjort & Vinayak Iyer & Golvine De Rochambeau, 2020. "Informational Barriers to Market Access: Experimental Evidence from Liberian Firms," Sciences Po publications 2020-09, Sciences Po.
    10. Jean-William Laliberté, "undated". "Long-term Contextual Effects in Education: Schools and Neighborhoods," Working Papers 2019-01, Department of Economics, University of Calgary.
    11. Adnan Q. Khan & Asim Ijaz Khwaja & Benjamin A. Olken, 2019. "Making Moves Matter: Experimental Evidence on Incentivizing Bureaucrats through Performance-Based Postings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(1), pages 237-270, January.
    12. Bandiera, Oriana & Best, Michael & Khan, Adnan & Prat, Andrea, 2020. "The Allocation of Authority in Organizations: A Field Experiment with Bureaucrats," CEPR Discussion Papers 14381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. 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.
    14. Chiappinelli, Olga, 2020. "Decentralization and Public Procurement Performance: New Evidence from Italy," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 856-880.
    15. Bucciol, Alessandro & Camboni, Riccardo & Valbonesi, Paola, 2020. "Purchasing medical devices: The role of buyer competence and discretion," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    16. Francesco Amodio & Jieun Choi & Giacomo de Giorgi & Aminur Rahman, 2018. "Bribes vs. Taxes: Market Structure and Incentives," Working Papers id:12919, eSocialSciences.
    17. Tukiainen, Janne & Blesse, Sebastian & Bohne, Albrecht & Giuffrida, Leonardo M. & Jääskeläinen, Jan & Luukinen, Ari & Sieppi, Antti, 2021. "What are the priorities of bureaucrats? Evidence from conjoint experiments with procurement officials," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-033, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    18. Gallego, Jorge & Prem, Mounu & Vargas, Juan F., 2020. "Corruption in the Times of Pandemia," Working papers 43, Red Investigadores de Economía.
    19. Hoekman, Bernard & Sanfilippo, Marco, 2018. "Firm performance and participation in public procurement: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 12752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Barbosa, Klenio & Straub, Stéphane, 2017. "The Value of Revolving Doors in Public Procurement," TSE Working Papers 17-873, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised May 2020.
    21. Jääskeläinen, Jan & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Anatomy of public procurement," Working Papers 118, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    22. Bernard Hoekman & Marco Sanfilippo, 2020. "Foreign participation in public procurement and firm performance: evidence from sub-Saharan Africa," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 156(1), pages 41-73, February.
    23. Francesco Decarolis & Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Elisabetta Iossa & Vincenzo Mollisi & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "Bureaucratic Competence and Procurement Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 24201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Decarolis, Francesco & Iossa, Elisabetta & Mollisi, Vincenzo & Giuffrida, Leonardo, 2016. "Buyer Quality and Procurement Outcomes: Explorative Evidence From the US," SITE Working Paper Series 41, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.
    25. Estache, Antonio & Foucart, Renaud, 2018. "The scope and limits of accounting and judicial courts intervention in inefficient public procurement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 95-106.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23350. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.