Do Selection Rules Affect Leader Responsiveness? Evidence from Rural Uganda

Grossman, G.  2014.  Do Selection Rules Affect Leader Responsiveness? Evidence from Rural Uganda Quarterly Journal of Political Science. 9(1):1-44.


Community organizations in developing countries often suffer from self-serving local elites. This study examines whether the responsiveness of local leaders to community members can be strengthened through more inclusive and participatory rules. To address identification problems, I take advantage of a project implementation error that resulted in exogenous variation in the rules for selecting leaders of farmer associations in Uganda. I find that compared to appointed leaders, directly elected leaders are significantly more responsive to group members, leading to higher levels of cooperation. Analyzing possible mechanisms, I find that community organizations using appointments are less likely to develop monitoring institutions and auditing practices that are vital for constraining the behavior of local elites. Unique social network data provides evidence that close friendship ties between appointed and appointees substitute for formal monitoring institutions, leading to loss of confidence by community members and, subsequently, to a decline in public goods contributions.

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