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Does participation improve project performance : establishing causality with subjective data

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

Abstract

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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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, April.
    3. 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).

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