Chief for a Day: Elite Capture and Management Performance in a Field Experiment in Sierra Leone

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Voors, Maarten 
Turley, Ty 
Bulte, Erwin 
List, John A 

We use a field experiment in Sierra Leone to examine how the identity of the manager influences rent seeking and performance in participatory development projects. Specifically, we vary the composition of a committee responsible for implementing a development project—local elites or randomly selected villagers. The design is unique in that it permits us to explore the effectiveness of two alternative local governance modalities and the extent of elite capture in community projects. We find little evidence that local elites capture project resources. We do observe they are better managers of development projects. Improved performance covaries with a proxy for power of the local chief.

development aid, chieftaincy, local governance, Africa
Journal Title
Management Science
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Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
British Academy (SG111660)
Isaac Newton Trust (MINUTE 1026(T))
ESRC (via Wageningen University & Research (WUR)) (unknown)
International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) (via Wageningen University & Research (WUR)) (TW11042)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/J017620/1)
This work was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research [N.W.O. Grants 453-10-001 and 45-14-001], the Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and the Economic and Social Research Council [Grant ES/J017620/1].