Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda

Citation:
Grossman, G, Michelitch K.  2016.  Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda.

Abstract:

Politicians regularly underperform in their job duties partly due to the obscurity of their actions to constituents. In this study, we investigate the effects of a local NGO's initiative to improve the transparency of politicians' actions in a multi-year field experiment involving 408 politicians in 20 Ugandan district governments between the 2011 and 2016 elections. The NGO created performance `scorecards' each year to rate how good politicians carried out their legally defined job duties, and presented them to all politicians in district plenary sessions. For randomly selected politicians, the scorecard was also disseminated to constituents. We find that scorecard dissemination improved politicians' subsequent performance across a range of performance measures and development project procurement, but only in competitive constituencies. The effect on the performance of duties assessed on the scorecard emerges immediately after treatment. These findings suggest that, depending on electoral pressure, performance transparency can improve politicians' performance between elections.

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