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“Facilitation Workshops Improve Governance in Low-Capacity Bureaucracies: Experimental Evidence from Myanmar Firms” by Dean Dulay & Edmund Malesky

August 25, 2021 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

Registration required!

Authors: Dean Dulay (Singapore Management University) and Edmund Malesky (Duke).

Abstract: Despite strong theoretical foundations, transparency interventions have a mixed record in improving bureaucratic performance. The missing ingredient has been the use of facilitation—working with bureaucrats on how to use information effectively and encouraging collaboration across government agencies. The argument is tested on a novel, nationally-representative panel of Myanmar firms. Facilitation workshops were conducted in 81 randomly assigned townships, bringing together officials from various government agencies and introducing them to the results of the MBEI, a subnational performance assessment that scored townships along key governance indicators. Results show that firms in townships where officials attended facilitation improved their MBEI scores by 6-8 percentage points. Variation in subindex scores was mediated by the degree of decentralization of government agencies—subindexes under the jurisdiction of more centralized agencies had fewer improvements. The results imply that interventions that facilitate organizational learning and coordination can greatly improve bureaucratic performance, even without significant institutional reform.

Discussants: Isabel Chew (UBC), Kyosuke Kikuta (Osaka), and Van Tran (Cornell).

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