At MIT GOV/LAB, we study what motivates governments to respond to citizen needs and how to make the interface between citizens and government more effective. Governments, especially in developing contexts, can be trapped in low-trust, low-capacity situations where the government may have limited capacity to deliver services which in turn reduces citizen trust. Low citizen trust further impacts the governments’ ability to deliver public services. The current projects study the motivations and attitudes of government officials to understand how intrinsic and environmental factors can affect their behaviors for improved responsiveness, better service delivery, and willingness to reform.

  • Demystifying the black box of government. Currently in the pilot stage, this project explores how bureaucrats’ intrinsic motivations, attitudes about government, and key personal characteristics relate to their willingness to deliver services, innovate, and reform. We will conduct systematic data collection through an online, English language survey sent to bureaucrats from countries in the Global South.
  • Understanding the role of technology in bureaucratic work. In this project, we study the impact of technology’s role on governance in Sierra Leone’s public health bureaucracies. Specifically, we explore the use of the healthcare software, DHIS2, in Sierra Leone to understand how technology affects information collection, decision-making, and bureaucratic work.  

Image: City hall in Yucatán, Mexico. Credits: Tesalia Rizzo.