IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does participation improve project performance : establishing causality with subjective data


  • Isham, Jonathan*Narayan, Deepa*Pritchett, Lant


Development practitioners are coming to a consensus that participation by the intended beneficiaries improves project performance. But is there convincing evidence that this is true? Skeptics have three objections: 1)"Participation is not objective -- project rankings are subjective; 2) this subjectivity leads to"halo effects"; 3) better project performance may have increased beneficiary participation rather than the other way around -- a statistical association is not proof of cause and effect. The authors show methodologically how to answer each of these objections. Subjectivity does not preclude reliable cardinal measurement. Halo effects do not appear to induce a strong upward bias in estimating the effect of participation. Finally, instrumental variables estimation can help establish a structural cause and effect relationship between participation and project performance -- at least in the rural water supply projects they studied.

Suggested Citation

  • Isham, Jonathan*Narayan, Deepa*Pritchett, Lant, 1994. "Does participation improve project performance : establishing causality with subjective data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1357, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1357

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Barbara Pozzoni & Nalini Kumar, 2005. "A Review of the Literature on Participatory Approaches to Local Development for an Evaluation of the Effectiveness of World Bank Support for Community-Based and Driven Development Approaches," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 20203, June.
    2. Bergeron, Gilles & Morris, Saul Sutkover & Banegas, Juan Manuel Medina, 1998. "How reliable are group informant ratings?," FCND discussion papers 43, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Liu, Chengfang & Zhang, Linxiu & Huang, Jikun & Luo, Renfu & Rozelle, Scott, 2009. "Can Good Projects Succeed in Bad Villages? Project Design, Village Governance and Infrastructure Quality in Rural China," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 49944, International Association of Agricultural Economists.


    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:wbk:wbrwps:1357. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a 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.

    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.