Christopher Hyun, Alison E. Post & Isha Ray
Governance, 31: 1 - 18
Publication year: 2017

Abstract

Significant development funding flows to informational interventions intended to improve public services. Such “transparency fixes” often depend on the cooperation of frontline workers who produce or disseminate information for citizens. This article examines frontline worker compliance with a transparency intervention in Bangalore’s water sector. Why did compliance vary across neighborhoods, and why did workers exhibit modest rates of compliance overall? Drawing on ethnographic observation and an original data set, this article finds that variation in workers’ family responsibilities and financial circumstances largely explains variation in compliance with the intervention. Furthermore, workers often prioritize long‐standing responsibilities over new tasks seen as add‐ons, leading to modest rates of compliance overall. Perceptions of “core” jobs can be sticky—especially when reaffirmed through interactions with citizens. This article represents one of the first multimethod companions to a field experiment, and illustrates how the analysis of qualitative and observational data can contribute to impact evaluation.

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