IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/26733.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Allocation of Authority in Organizations: A Field Experiment with Bureaucrats

Author

Listed:
  • Oriana Bandiera
  • Michael Carlos Best
  • Adnan Qadir Khan
  • Andrea Prat

Abstract

We design a field experiment to study how the allocation of authority between frontline procurement officers and their monitors affects performance both directly and through the response to incentives. In collaboration with the government of Punjab, Pakistan, we shift authority from monitors to procurement officers and introduce financial incentives in a sample of 600 procurement officers in 26 districts. We find that autonomy alone reduces prices by 9% without reducing quality and that the effect is stronger when the monitor tends to delay approvals for purchases until the end of the fiscal year. In contrast, the effect of performance pay is muted, except when agents face a monitor who does not delay approvals. Time use data reveal agents’ responses vary along the same margin: autonomy increases the time devoted to procurement and this leads to lower prices only when monitors cause delays. By contrast, incentives work when monitors do not cause delays. The results illustrate that organizational design and anti-corruption policies must balance agency issues at different levels of the hierarchy.

Suggested Citation

  • Oriana Bandiera & Michael Carlos Best & Adnan Qadir Khan & Andrea Prat, 2020. "The Allocation of Authority in Organizations: A Field Experiment with Bureaucrats," NBER Working Papers 26733, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26733
    Note: DEV PE POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w26733.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Guriev, Sergei, 2004. "Red tape and corruption," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 489-504, April.
    2. Urs Fischbacher & Franziska Föllmi-Heusi, 2013. "Lies In Disguise—An Experimental Study On Cheating," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 525-547, June.
    3. Jeffrey B. Liebman & Neale Mahoney, 2017. "Do Expiring Budgets Lead to Wasteful Year-End Spending? Evidence from Federal Procurement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3510-3549, November.
    4. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-954, July.
    5. Steve Kelman, 1990. "Procurement and Public Management," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 53122, September.
    6. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna & Stephen P. Ryan, 2012. "Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1241-1278, June.
    7. Ernesto Dal Bó & Frederico Finan & Martín A. Rossi, 2013. "Strengthening State Capabilities: The Role of Financial Incentives in the Call to Public Service," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 128(3), pages 1169-1218.
    8. Imran Rasul & Daniel Rogger, 2018. "Management of Bureaucrats and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(608), pages 413-446, February.
    9. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2011. "Field Experiments with Firms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 63-82, Summer.
    10. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    11. Adnan Q. Khan & Asim I. Khwaja & Benjamin A. Olken, 2016. "Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Performance Pay for Tax Collectors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 131(1), pages 219-271.
    12. Pomeranz, Dina & Gerardino, Maria Paula & Litschig, Stephan, 2017. "Distortion by Audit: Evidence from Public Procurement," CEPR Discussion Papers 12529, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Decio Coviello & Andrea Guglielmo & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2018. "The Effect of Discretion on Procurement Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(2), pages 715-738, February.
    14. Dean Yang, 2008. "Can Enforcement Backfire? Crime Displacement in the Context of Customs Reform in the Philippines," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 1-14, February.
    15. Mark Duggan & Fiona M. Scott Morton, 2006. "The Distortionary Effects of Government Procurement: Evidence from Medicaid Prescription Drug Purchasing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 121(1), pages 1-30.
    16. Nava Ashraf & Oriana Bandiera & Edward Davenport & Scott S. Lee, 2020. "Losing Prosociality in the Quest for Talent? Sorting, Selection, and Productivity in the Delivery of Public Services," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(5), pages 1355-1394, May.
    17. Imran Rasul & Daniel Rogger, 2018. "Management of Bureaucrats and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(608), pages 413-446, February.
    18. Guriev, Sergei, 2004. "Red tape and corruption," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 489-504, April.
    19. Michael Carlos Best & Jonas Hjort & David Szakonyi, 2023. "Individuals and Organizations as Sources of State Effectiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 113(8), pages 2121-2167, August.
    20. Oriana Bandiera & Andrea Prat & Tommaso Valletti, 2009. "Active and Passive Waste in Government Spending: Evidence from a Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1278-1308, September.
    21. Bold, Tessa & Kimenyi, Mwangi & Mwabu, Germano & Ng’ang’a, Alice & Sandefur, Justin, 2018. "Experimental evidence on scaling up education reforms in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 1-20.
    22. Rema Hanna & Shing-Yi Wang, 2017. "Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service: Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 262-290, August.
    23. Imbens,Guido W. & Rubin,Donald B., 2015. "Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521885881, November.
    24. Clare Leaver, 2009. "Bureaucratic Minimal Squawk Behavior: Theory and Evidence from Regulatory Agencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 572-607, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Erica Bosio & Simeon Djankov & Edward Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2022. "Public Procurement in Law and Practice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(4), pages 1091-1117, April.
    2. Rao, Manaswini & Shenoy, Ashish, 2023. "Got (clean) milk? Organization, incentives, and management in Indian dairy cooperatives," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 708-722.
    3. Kalaj, Jozefina & Rogger, Daniel & Somani, Ravi, 2022. "Bureaucrat time-use: Evidence from a survey experiment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    4. Antonio Estache & Renaud Foucart & Tomas Serebrisky, 2022. "When can Lotteries improve Public Procurement Processes?," Working Papers ECARES 2022-22, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Cingano, Federico & Palomba, Filippo & Pinotti, Paolo & Rettore, Enrico, 2022. "Making Subsidies Work: Rules vs. Discretion," IZA Discussion Papers 15172, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Lambsdorff, Johann Graf & Grubiak, Kevin & Werner, Katharina, 2023. "Intrinsic Motivation vs. Corruption? Experimental Evidence on the Performance of Officials," MPRA Paper 118153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Brendon McConnell, 2023. "What's Logs Got to do With it: On the Perils of log Dependent Variables and Difference-in-Differences," Papers 2308.00167, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2023.
    8. Köhler, Ekkehard & Matsusaka, John G. & Wu, Yanhui, 2023. "Street-level responsiveness of city governments in China, Germany, and the United States," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 640-652.
    9. Mehmood, Sultan & Seror, Avner, 2023. "Religious leaders and rule of law," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C).
    10. Elisa Gerten & Michael Beckmann & Elisa Gerten & Matthias Kräkel, 2022. "Information and Communication Technology, Hierarchy, and Job Design," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 189, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    11. Rodrigo Carril & Andres Gonzalez-Lira & Michael S. Walker, 2022. "Competition under Incomplete Contracts and the Design of Procurement Policies," Working Papers 1327, Barcelona School of Economics.
    12. Tancredi Buscemi & Giulia Romani, 2022. "Allocation of authority and tactical redistribution of public investments: A historical quasi-experiment," Working Papers 2022:18, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari", revised 2024.
    13. Clark, Robert & Coviello, Decio & de Leverano, Adriano, 2021. "Centralized procurement and delivery times: Evidence from a natural experiment in Italy," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-063, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    14. 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.
    15. Gallego, Jorge & Prem, Mounu & Vargas, Juan F., 2020. "Corruption in the Times of Pandemia," Working papers 43, Red Investigadores de Economía.
    16. De Leverano, Adriano & Coviello, Decio & Clark, Robert, 2023. "Centralized Procurement and Delivery Times: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Italy," VfS Annual Conference 2023 (Regensburg): Growth and the "sociale Frage" 277589, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    17. Athias, Laure, 2024. "Common Good Institutions, Identity in the Workplace, and Value Dynamics," MPRA Paper 120588, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Clarissa Lotti & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2022. "Indirect Savings from Public Procurement Centralization," CEIS Research Paper 532, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 01 Feb 2022.
    19. 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 and Oxford Review of Economic Policy Limited, vol. 37(2), pages 335-366.
    20. De La O, Ana L. & González, Lucas I. & Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, 2023. "Voluntary audits: Experimental evidence on a new approach to monitoring front-line bureaucrats," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 162(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Rodrigo Carril, 2021. "Rules Versus Discretion in Public Procurement," Working Papers 1232, Barcelona School of Economics.
    2. Erica Bosio & Simeon Djankov & Edward Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2022. "Public Procurement in Law and Practice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(4), pages 1091-1117, April.
    3. Janne Tukiainen & Sebastian Blesse & Albrecht Bohne & Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Jan Jäässkeläinen & Ari Luukinen & Antti Sieppi, 2021. "What Are the Priorities of Bureaucrats? Evidence from Conjoint Experiments with Procurement Officials," EconPol Working Paper 63, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    4. Donna Harris & Oana Borcan & Danila Serra & Henry Telli & Bruno Schettini & Stefan Dercon, 2022. "Proud to belong: The impact of ethics training on police officers," CSAE Working Paper Series 2022-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    5. Harris, Donna & Borcan, Oana & Serra, Danila & Telli, Henry & Schettini, Bruno & Dercon, Stefan, 2024. "Proud to Belong: The Impact of Ethics Training on Police Officers in Ghana," IZA Discussion Papers 17006, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. De La O, Ana L. & González, Lucas I. & Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, 2023. "Voluntary audits: Experimental evidence on a new approach to monitoring front-line bureaucrats," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 162(C).
    7. Matilde Cappelletti & Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Leonardo Maria Giuffrida, 2024. "Targeted Bidders in Government Tenders," CESifo Working Paper Series 11142, CESifo.
    8. Rodrigo Carril & Andres Gonzalez-Lira & Michael S. Walker, 2022. "Competition under Incomplete Contracts and the Design of Procurement Policies," Working Papers 1327, Barcelona School of Economics.
    9. Callen, Michael & Gulzar, Saad & Hasanain, Ali & Khan, Muhammad Yasir & Rezaee, Arman, 2020. "Data and policy decisions: Experimental evidence from Pakistan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    10. Amodio, Francesco & Choi, Jieun & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Rahman, Aminur, 2022. "Bribes vs. taxes: Market structure and incentives," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 435-453.
    11. Shuguang Jiang & Marie Claire Villeval, 2022. "Dishonesty in Developing Countries -What Can We Learn From Experiments?," Working Papers hal-03899654, HAL.
    12. Frederico Finan & Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2015. "The Personnel Economics of the State," NBER Working Papers 21825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Andrew Dustan & Stanislao Maldonado & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale field experiments in Peru," Working Papers 136, Peruvian Economic Association.
    14. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Clément Imbert & Santhosh Mathew & Rohini Pande, 2020. "E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 39-72, October.
    15. Clare Leaver & Owen Ozier & Pieter Serneels & Andrew Zeitlin, 2021. "Recruitment, Effort, and Retention Effects of Performance Contracts for Civil Servants: Experimental Evidence from Rwandan Primary Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(7), pages 2213-2246, July.
    16. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    17. Valsecchi, Michele, 2016. "Corrupt Bureaucrats: The Response of Non-Elected Officials to Electoral Accountability," Working Papers in Economics 684, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    18. Kalaj, Jozefina & Rogger, Daniel & Somani, Ravi, 2022. "Bureaucrat time-use: Evidence from a survey experiment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 152(C).
    19. 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.
    20. Leonardo M. Giuffrida & Gabriele Rovigatti, 2022. "Supplier selection and contract enforcement: Evidence from performance bonding," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 980-1019, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D04 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Policy: Formulation; Implementation; Evaluation
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H57 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Procurement
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • M42 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Auditing
    • M48 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:26733. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.