Designing Performance Indicators for Career Incentives in China

Qiong Zhang
Hubei Province, China
Governance Initiative
AEA RCT registration number:
Research papers:


  • Co-Innovation Center for Social Governance of Urban and Rural Communities

Researchers are studying career incentives given to local civil servants hired by the Chinese Government to serve the broad needs of the population. In collaboration with the regional officials and a provincial research center focusing on local governance, researchers will test alternative performance evaluation schemes, ranging from the status quo of delegation to local officials with total discretion, to a transparent performance score based on easily observable high signal-to-noise ratio indicators. Researchers will also test two intermediate schemes: 1) a transparent scoring formula, including a larger set of lower signal-to-noise ratio indicators, and 2) giving discretion to the local officials to decide on the weighting scheme, but not the components of the performance score. The objective is to test whether the levels of precision, transparency, and delegation in assigning performance scores improve the power of incentives and to detect potential trade-offs in performance along non-incentivized dimensions due to multi-tasking.