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Training for productivity: An experimental evaluation of civil service reform in Ghana

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  • Ghana

Research Themes:

Institution Types:

Project summary

Focus of the study

Our central research question is: “Does training bureaucrats in productivity techniques improve management and productivity in Ghana’s Civil Service?”

This project aims to improve the Ghanaian Civil Service’s productivity by designing, implementing and evaluating novel individual and group-based training methods for bureaucrats. The training programs are integrated experimentally into the standard package of trainings delivered annually by the Office of the Head of Civil Service (OHCS) and the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC) of Ghana. The curriculum has been developed and implementation started in March 2017.

The trial covers the entire Civil Service. Findings will feed directly into the OHCS’s and CSTC’s work: they requested the project and the trainings are being delivered by Civil Service personnel and through existing systems. This improves external validity, scalability, and sustainability.

Broader motivation for the research

Effective government bureaucracies are crucial for development and management practices have also been shown to significantly impact public service delivery. However, little is known about improving the productivity of the vital mid-level of bureaucrats who are crucial to the design and implementation of policies, and are often responsible for selecting, incentivising and managing frontline staff.

Training is one of the main levers to improve the productivity of mid-level bureaucrats, and governments and donors spend billions on training and capacity building with little evidence of its impact. Our research will help Ghana and other countries learn how to best deploy training as a tool of productivity improvement. It also contributes to a broader literature on experimental approaches to improving management and relational contracts in organisations.

Research team

  • Stefan Dercon, University of Oxford
  • Martin J Williams, University of Oxford
  • Imran Rasul, University College London
  • Daniel Rogger, World Bank


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