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Submitted by Jakob Fredensborg on

Thanks Shanta for the sum-up and selected highlight. One thing that struck me is that the WDR and your breakdown above, only looks at the issues of lacking or poor service delivery from the perspective of hard incentives and completely ignores how important soft incentives can be. Pay and promotion are not the only motivators in ensuring performance. How people feel associated to the job and public opinion can also play important roles in motivating teachers and doctors to show up and do their job. If you are the subject of national shaming and constant blame for poor outcomes, higher pay or a different title, won't help you to mentally set yourself up for the job. Nobody wants to be told that they are horrible at what they do and be blamed for poor performance.

I would also argue that problems regarding lacking performance of public servants are not confined to developing countries, they are also present in developed countries albeit in different form and scope. Extending the scope of the argument; I am sad that so little is being "learnt" from how developed countries tackle or tackled these problems. These experiences are usually only taken into consideration on the margin. Instead, the literature always, only, present cases from developing countries, furthering "South-South" exchange. Why is it that only experiences from places where systems barely function are utilized to show other countries with equally defunct systems how to overcome their challenges?

I recently read that behavioural economics is making its way back into the Bank, very good. I should like to see some of the tenants of the discipline be utilised in explaining why public servants do not do their job, looking beyond the wage paradigm. Service delivery remains one of the central functions of government (regardless of how effectuated or organised) and its improvement is crucial to tackling some of the global challenges our species still face.