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Improving bureaucratic effectiveness during the Covid-19 crisis

We study whether positive and negative reinforcement messages to supervisors can help improve bureaucratic outcomes in times of crisis. In many parts of the developing world, it is difficult to get bureaucrats to complete tasks. Focusing on school principals’ supervisors in the Dominican Republic—school district officials—and the urgency to get detailed information on curricular completion prior to the Covid-19 health emergency, we randomize reinforcement mechanisms to get district officials to incentivize the principals under their supervision to complete a task. After the official deadline for the completion of the task has passed, we create information channels (WhatsApp groups) to each district in which we provide them with a list of complying and non-complying schools. For districts in treatment group 1, we provide a positive, reinforcement message with the list, and for districts in treatment group 2, a negative, reinforcement message.

Lead investigator:

Catherine Rodríguez


Universidad de los Andes

Primary topic:

Schools, universities & training

Secondary topic:

Attitudes, media & governance

Region of data collection:

North America

Country of data collection

Dominican Republic

Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:


Unit of real-time data collection