Recruitment, effort, and retention effects of performance contracts for civil servants

Research question

Can pay for performance contracts improve teacher performance and student learning? Can these types of contracts also support the recruitment and retention of skilled and intrinsically motivated teachers?

Research summary and methodology

Skilled and intrinsically motivated personnel are central to state capacity, yet the capability to recruit, elicit effort from, and retain this profile of civil servants remains a challenge in many developing countries. In this project, we ask whether performance contracts for teachers in Rwanda can affect not only the effort provided by existing teachers, but also the composition of teachers.

Using a two-tiered randomized, controlled trial that distinguishes compositional effects from effort responses of individual teachers, we evaluate the impacts of a pay-for-performance contract relative to a fixed-wage contract on applications to teaching positions, learning outcomes, and teacher retention.

Results from this study will provide the first developing-country experimental evidence of the effects of performance pay on selection into the civil service, and will shed light on the possible tradeoffs between skill and intrinsic motivation underlying these compositional effects.

Collaborating Researchers

Owen Ozier (World Bank), Pieter Serneels (UEA), Andrew Zeitlin (Georgetown University)

CSAE Researchers

Clare Leaver

Featured Publications

‘Teacher Performance and Activity in Upper Primary Education in Rwanda’, Phase I Report for IGC, 2016.

‘Strengthening Public Sector Performance Contracts in Rwanda, IGC Rapid Response Note, 2014.

‘Improving Education Quality: Ideas for Rwanda’, Briefing Paper for the Strategic Planning Unit, Government of Rwanda, 2014.