Motivating bureaucrats through social recognition: External validity—A tale of two states

Varun Gauri, Julian C. Jamison, Nina Mazar, Owen Ozier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Bureaucratic performance is a crucial determinant of economic growth, but little real-world evidence exists on how to improve it, especially in resource-constrained settings. We conducted a field experiment of a social recognition intervention to improve record keeping in health facilities in two Nigerian states, replicating the intervention – implemented by a single organization – on bureaucrats performing identical tasks. Social recognition improved performance in one state but had no effect in the other, highlighting both the potential benefits and also the sometimes-limited generalizability of behavioral interventions. Furthermore, differences in facility-level observables did not explain cross-state differences in impacts, suggesting that it may often be difficult to predict external validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Behavioral insights
  • Bureaucracy
  • External validity
  • Healthcare
  • Nudges
  • RCT


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