Mission Incentives: Experimental Evidence on Selection, Performance and Retention among Health Workers in Zambia

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 09.07.2013, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Oriana Bandiera (London School of Economics)


Can employees' interest in their jobs’ mission be leveraged to improve selection, performance and retention? We provide answers in the context of a nationwide field experiment in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Zambia in their recruitment drive of community health workers. The experiment creates random variation in the job's mission: in half of 48 districts, the job mission was advertised so as to foster one’s career in the health sector (“private” mission) while in the other half the job mission was advertised so as to serve the community (“social” mission). We find that mission incentives attract different types at application stage, influence panels at selection stage, and affect performance in the field. In particular, the social mission attracts applicants who put in more effort (and hence generate less administrative waste) in submitting the correct documents, and who are more attached to the community. However, social mission applicants have lower qualifications, especially in the natural sciences, and their performance on the field is 25% below that of private mission applicants. Taken together, the findings indicate that community attachment comes at the price of lower qualifications and worse performance, with no improvements in retention, at least for the first ten months since deployment.

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