Institutions and Technocratic Skill in Local Economic Development

Decades of unaccountable leadership, conflict and underdevelopment have limited the reach of the state into rural Sierra Leone and left communities with a dearth of public services. This project explores two distinct mechanisms to bridge the gap between communities and government. The first evaluates the long run effects of a community driven development (CDD) program, which devolved financial and implementation control over public services to communities, accompanied by intensive social facilitation. The second assesses a low cost technocratic alternative that identifies and supports high competence community members to take better advantage of development programs offered by government. It leverages local talent, addresses information barriers, and augments existing managerial capital with basic training in project management. A third component elicits expert beliefs about the efficacy of these two approaches, assesses their forecast accuracy, and evaluates how beliefs change in response to new information.

Written with Rachel Glennerster (DfID), Edward Miguel (UC Berkeley) and Maarten Voors (Wageningen University)