Mansuri, Ghazala

Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, World Bank
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Rural Land, Labor and Credit Markets; Microfinance; Poverty Dynamics; Political Economy of Participatory Development; Field Experiments in Governance and Politics; Impact Evaluation of Institutional and Governance Reforms
Poverty Reduction and Equity Group, World Bank
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Last updated: July 6, 2023
Ghazala Mansuri is a Lead Economist in the Poverty Reduction and Equity Group. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University and has published extensively in leading journals in Economics and Development. Her research spans four broad areas: Rural land, labor and credit markets; the economics of household behavior; the political economy of participatory development and institutional and governance reforms for development. Her research on the political economy of local development includes a number of evaluations of participatory development programs.  
Citations 28 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • Publication
    Can Participation Be Induced? Some Evidence from Developing Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-07) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    The World Bank has allocated close to $80 billion towards participatory development projects over the last decade. A comprehensive review of the evidence on the efficacy of the approach conducted by the authors for the forthcoming Policy Research Report, Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?, finds that while participatory projects have been reasonably effective in improving access to basic services, there is far less evidence of their effectiveness in improving household income or in building sustainable participatory institutions at the local level. A key issue is that the institutional culture in development agencies such as the World Bank lacks the flexibility and long-term commitment necessary for effective externally induced participatory development. Induced participation -- driven by large-scale bureaucratically managed processes, is quite different from more organic types of participation endogenously organized by civic groups. It requires a very different approach to development, one that pays close attention to contextual variation and to uncertain trajectories of change. In order to be effective, induced participatory projects need a strong focus on learning-by-doing; on monitoring and evaluation and a willingness to learn from failure. A review of the World Bank's practices in monitoring and evaluation, and of its incentives to learn from failure, reveals that without significant changes, including changes in the incentive structures facing management, the Bank cannot be effective in inducing participation.
  • Publication
    Participatory Development Reconsidered
    (2011-04) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    Over the last two decades development policy has touted civic participation as a magic bullet for solving problems at the local level from improving livelihoods, to selecting beneficiaries for public programs, providing housing after earthquakes and floods, or improving village infrastructure. The thinking is that involving village or urban civic communities in decision making will improve accountability, reduce inequality, and ultimately alleviate poverty.
  • Publication
    Community-Based and Driven Development: A Critical Review
    (World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-02) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    Community-based (and driven) development (CBD/CDD) projects have become an important form of development assistance, with the World Bank's portfolio alone approximating 7 billion dollars. The authors review the conceptual foundations of CBD/CDD initiatives. Given the importance of the topic, there are, unfortunately, a dearth of well-designed evaluations of such projects. But there is enough quantitative and qualitative evidence from studies that have either been published in peer-reviewed publications or have been conducted by independent researchers to glean some instructive lessons. The authors find that projects that rely on community participation have not been particularly effective at targeting the poor. There is some evidence that CBD/CDD projects create effective community infrastructure, but not a single study establishes a causal relationship between any outcome and participatory elements of a CBD project. Most CBD projects are dominated by elites and, in general, the targeting of poor communities as well as project quality tend to be markedly worse in more unequal communities. However, a number of studies find a U-shaped relationship between inequality and project outcomes. The authors also find that a distinction between potentially "benevolent" forms of elite domination and more pernicious types of "capture" is likely to be important for understanding project dynamics and outcomes. Several qualitative studies indicate that the sustainability of CBD initiatives depends crucially on an enabling institutional environment, which requires upward commitment. Equally, the literature indicates that community leaders need to be downwardly accountable to avoid a variant of "supply-driven demand-driven development." Qualitative evidence also suggests that external agents strongly influence project success. However, facilitators are often poorly trained and inexperienced, particularly when programs are rapidly scaled up. Overall, a naive application of complex contextual concepts like "participation," "social capital," and "empowerment" is endemic among project implementers and contributes to poor design and implementation. In sum, the evidence suggests that CBD/CDD is best done in a context-specific manner, with a long time-horizon, and with careful and well-designed monitoring and evaluation systems.
  • Publication
    Localizing Development : Does Participation Work?
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2013) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    The Policy Research Report Localizing Development: Does Participation Work? brings analytical rigor to a field that has been the subject of intense debate and advocacy, and billions of dollars in development aid. It briefly reviews the history of participatory development and argues that its two modalities, community-based development and local decentralization, should be treated under the broader unifying umbrella of local development. It suggests that a distinction between organic participation (endogenous efforts by civic activists to bring about change) and induced participation (large-scale efforts to engineer participation at the local level via projects) is key, and focuses on the challenges of inducing participation. The report provides a conceptual framework for thinking about participatory development and then uses this framework to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature. The framework develops the concept of “civil society failure” and explains its interaction with government and market failures. It argues that participatory development, which is often viewed as a mechanism for bypassing market and government failures by ”harnessing” civic capacity, ought to be seen instead as a mechanism that, if done right, could help to repair important civil society failures. It distills literature from anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science to outline the challenges for effective policy in this area, looking at issues such as the uncertainty of trajectories of change, the importance of context, the role of elite capture and control, the challenge of collective action, and the role of the state. The review of the evidence looks at a variety of issues: the impact of participatory projects on inclusion, civic capacity, and social cohesion; on key development outcomes, such as income, poverty, and inequality; on public service delivery; and on the quality of local public goods. It draws on the evidence to suggest several recommendations for policy, emphasizing the key role of learning-by-doing. It then reviews participatory projects funded by the World Bank and finds the majority lacking in several arenas – particularly in paying attention to context and in creating effective monitoring and evaluation systems that allow for learning.
  • Publication
    Money versus Kudos: The Impact of Incentivizing Local Politicians in India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    Despite growing awareness of the various limitations of electoral democracy, there is a relative lack of evidence on effective policy interventions to improve the performance of elected officials and motivate them to act more equitably. This paper reports the results from an experiment in which elected presidents of village governments in Tamil Nadu, India, were randomly assigned to one of two incentive schemes (or a control group): a financial incentive that rewarded better performing presidents with a higher public budget, and a nonfinancial incentive that awarded them a certificate demonstrating their achievement with an information campaign to disseminate it. The findings show that both incentives improved access to public investments and private transfers in the villages of incentivized presidents. The nonfinancial incentive also led to a more equitable between-hamlet allocation of resources within the village, and this effect was more acute with officials who faced potentially more competitive elections. The paper shows that the results are consistent with a theoretical model where imperfect voter information drives inequities in resource allocation, and interventions that provide credible information on politician quality motivate elected representatives to act more equitably.
  • Publication
    Can Participation Be Induced? Some Evidence from Developing Countries
    (Taylor and Francis, 2013-04-08) Mansuri, Ghazala; Rao, Vijayendra
    Influenced by Amartya Sen, over the last decade, The World Bank has allocated nearly US$80 billion to local participatory development projects targeting poverty, improved public service delivery, and strengthened social cohesion and government accountability. But the success of these programs is hindered by both endogenous local factors and flawed program design and implementation. Two especially important local obstacles are (1) entrenched interests of political agents, civil bureaucrats, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with either incentives to resist or capabilities to appropriate program resources, and (2) poverty and illiteracy, as the poor and illiterate participate less and benefit less from participatory projects than do the wealthier, more educated, and more connected. After reviewing hundreds of participatory projects, three lessons are clear for program planning. First, contextual factors like inequality, history, geography, and political systems (among others) are important. Second, communities do not necessarily have a ready stock of ‘social capital’ to mobilize. Third, induced participatory interventions work best when supported by a responsive state – donors cannot substitute for a non-functional state, and successful programs combine enlightened state action from above with social mobilization from below. Future participatory development projects would benefit substantially from revised planning and considerably more attention paid to evaluation and monitoring. Project managers have historically paid little attention to context, monitoring, or evaluation, in part because The World Bank’s operational policies did not provide incentives to do so. Donor agencies should also exercise greater patience and allow for flexible, long-term engagement to facilitate contextual and programmatic learning, including learning from failure.