Governance Initiative 


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J-PAL’s Political Economy and Governance Program (PEG) has set up a Governance Initiative (GI) to carry out randomized impact evaluations of programs designed to improve participation in the political and policy process, and reduce leakages in public programs.

By providing targeted funding for rigorous evaluations of the most promising programs to improve governance, GI aims to offer guidance for organizations and governments in developing countries as well as the donors who provide support to these countries so that policies can be guided by scientific evidence on what works (or does not work). Through dissemination of findings to policymakers and by providing support for the scale-up and replication of successful programs, GI will help translate this evidence into concrete policy change.

Research Strategy: GI’s Governance Review Paper (GRP)

During the first phase of the initiative GI has conducted a comprehensive literature review. The Governance Review Paper that followed from this exercise sets out what is currently known (or not known) about the drivers of governance and identifies an agenda for future research. The GRP is organized along two broad research areas that are the most theoretically and practically relevant for improving governance:

  • Improving voter control over politicians and policy through elections and participatory institutions.
  • Improving incentive schemes and institutional features to encourage civil servants to do their jobs properly, without leakages.

Introduction to GI and Executive Summary of the Governance Review Paper

Governance Review Paper

Funding Evaluations

Based on the research priorities identified in the Governance Review Paper, GI will (a) call for research proposals for evaluations of programs aimed at improving governance, (b) evaluate the proposals according to a set of criteria, and (c) fund randomized impact evaluations of governance programs in developing countries. Request for Proposals will be issued every six months to fund evaluations and small-scale pilots.

Policy Outreach

J-PAL’s Policy Group will help disseminate the results from GI funded evaluations through policy publications, networking and conferences. It will create cost-effectiveness analyses to compare various alternative interventions when available and, if a project is found successful, will assist scale-up by identifying local partners and guiding them.

GI co-chairs are Professor Ben Olken of Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor Rohini Pande of Harvard University.  GI is funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the UK Department for International Development. For more details, please email GI’s Initiative Manager Anna Schickele at

For more details about the Political Economy and Governance Program (PEG) including links to related evaluations and publications click here.