Randomized Institutional Isomorphism - Evidence from Afghanistan
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CitationBeath, Andrew. 2012. Randomized Institutional Isomorphism - Evidence from Afghanistan. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe dissertation compiles a series of essays which describes effects of various institutional variations randomized across a sample of 500 villages in Afghanistan in 2007. The first essay examines the institutional effects of the creation of democratically-elected, gender-balanced village development councils across 474 village councils. The creation of councils is found to have no effects on the structure and function of local governance or on how male villagers perceive local governance quality. However, council creation provokes increased local governance activity among paramilitary commanders – who experience broad-based improvements in public perceptions – and improves perceptions of local governance quality among women. The results indicate that externally-imposed de jure reforms do not substantially alter institutional outcomes, but may provoke countervailing responses by political authorities seeking to benefit from the institutional change. The second essay examines the effects of direct democracy on the alignment between public resource allocation decisions and citizen preferences. Using data from 250 villages, the study compares decision outcomes produced by secret-ballot referenda with outcomes produced by public meetings led by an elected village council. The results indicate that while elites do exert influence over outcomes produced by public meetings, their preferences do not determine the outcomes of referenda, which are influenced primarily by citizen preferences. Referenda are also found to improve citizen satisfaction, which is particularly low where elites exert undue influence over outcomes. The third essay examines whether the inclusion of villages in Afghanistan‘s largest development program affects counter-insurgency outcomes, such as individual perceptions of well-being, attitudes towards government, and the occurrence of violent incidents in surrounding areas. The program is found to affect all three measures, but only in areas with low levels of initial violence. The results indicate that development programs can limit the onset of insurgencies in relatively secure areas, but are not effective in improving attitudes to government and reducing violence where insurgents are already active.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10336866
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