Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Rikhil Bhavnani ─ Local Embeddedness and Bureaucratic Performance: Evidence from India

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

Rikhil Bhavnani, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presents his paper, "Local Embeddedness and Bureaucratic Performance: Evidence from India," co-authored with Alexander M. Lee. Download the paper here.

While locally embedded bureaucrats may be more willing and able to enhance public goods provisioning in the places that they serve, they may also be more likely to be captured by elite interests. We reconcile these two viewpoints by arguing that locally embedded bureaucrats enhance public goods provisioning when they can be held accountable by the public. We test this theory using data from India, examining how changes in public goods provision within districts are related to the embeddedness of the senior bureaucrats (Indian Administrative Service officers) who served in them, using the plausibly random initial assignment of bureaucrats to account for the endogeneity of officer assignment. We find that officers from the state they serve increase public goods provision. Consistent with our theory, this effect is only present in districts with conditions that favor accountability. Our findings further the literatures on embeddedness, bureaucracy, leadership and development.

Development and Governance Seminar