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Behavioral Economics and Public Sector Reform : An Accidental Experiment and Lessons from Cameroon

ACCOUNTABILITY ACCOUNTING ADMINISTRATIVE COST AUTHORITY AUTHORIZATION BASIC BEST PRACTICES BLOG BUDGET EXECUTION BUDGET FORMULATION BUDGET MANAGEMENT BUDGET MONITORING BUDGET SYSTEM BUREAUCRACY CAPABILITIES CAPABILITY CAPACITY BUILDING CITIZENS COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS CONSENSUS CONSTITUENCIES CONSTITUTION CORRUPTION CUSTOMS CUSTOMS CLEARANCE CUSTOMS OFFICIALS CUSTOMS REVENUE CUSTOMS REVENUES DECISION MAKING DEVELOPED COUNTRIES DEVELOPING COUNTRY CONTEXT DOCUMENTATION E-MAIL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EMBEZZLEMENT ENTERPRISE SURVEY ENVIRONMENTS EQUIPMENT EVASION EXECUTION FINANCIAL INCENTIVES FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FINANCIAL RESOURCES FINANCIAL SUPPORT FISCAL PRESSURES FRAUD GOOD GOVERNANCE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS GOVERNMENT PERFORMANCE HUMAN RESOURCE HUMAN RESOURCES HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM INNOVATION INSPECTION INSTITUTION INSTITUTIONAL FOUNDATIONS INSTITUTIONAL REFORM INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS INTERNAL AUDIT INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS LEARNING LEGISLATION LEGITIMACY LITERATURE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS MARKET ECONOMY MINISTERS MINISTRY OF FINANCE NATIONAL BUDGET NATIONS OPEN ACCESS OPERATIONAL PRINCIPLE ORGANIZATIONAL AUTONOMY PERCEPTION PERCEPTIONS PERVERSE INCENTIVES POLITICAL AUTHORITY POLITICAL ECONOMY POLITICIANS POOR GOVERNANCE PRIVATE SECTOR PROCUREMENT PROCUREMENT PROCESSES PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROSPECT THEORY PUBLIC PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION PUBLIC FINANCE PUBLIC FINANCE MANAGEMENT PUBLIC GOODS PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS PUBLIC MANAGEMENT PUBLIC OFFICIALS PUBLIC RESOURCES PUBLIC SECTOR PUBLIC SECTOR MANAGEMENT PUBLIC SECTOR PERFORMANCE PUBLIC SECTOR PROJECTS PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM PUBLIC SUPPORT RATIONALIZATION RESULT RESULTS REVENUE COLLECTION REVENUE PERFORMANCE SEARCH STATE FUNDS STATE SECTOR STONE SUPERVISION SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TARGETS TAXATION TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROJECT TECHNOCRACY TECHNOCRATS TRADE FACILITATION TRAINING COURSES TRANSACTION TRANSPARENCY TREASURY UNEMPLOYMENT USERS WEB
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Cameroon
2013-10-02T21:54:53Z | 2013-10-02T21:54:53Z | 2013-09

Starting with the hypothesis that behaviors are the critical (and often overlooked) factor in public sector performance, this paper explores the notion of how behavioral change (and thus institutional change) might be better motivated in the public sector. The basis for this study is "an accidental experiment" resulting from the World Bank's operational engagement in Cameroon. In 2008, World Bank staff successfully concluded preparation on a project to support the Government of Cameroon to improve transparency, efficiency, and accountability of public finance management. The US$15 million project supported a number of ministries to strengthen a broad range of management systems and capacities. Independently and concurrently, other Bank staff initiated a low-profile, technical assistance project to improve performance in Cameroon's Customs, supported by a small trade facilitation grant of approximately US$300,000. One approach appears to have succeeded in initiating change while the other has signally failed. The two projects of different scale, scope and design in the same governance environment offer a very interesting natural experiment (unplanned but accidental for that reason) that allows insights into the nature of institutional change and the role of behavior and incentives and approaches that offer greater prospects for making reform possible. The paper confirms the value of using ideas from behavioral economics, both to design institutional reforms and to critically assess the approach to institutional reform taken by development agencies such as the World Bank.

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