Monitoring Public Employees in Paraguay: Can Technology Adoption by the Government Improve Agricultural Extension Services for Poor Farmers?
A key question in governmental organizations, where pay‐for‐performance is often impractical, is whether the adoption of new monitoring technologies can induce higher employee effort and more successful public service delivery. In addition, all organizations grapple with the problem of how much discretion to grant managers in the allocation of resources to agents: these managers may have valuable information, but they may also have private objectives. We will evaluate a pilot program of the federal government of Paraguay that will issue cell‐phones with GPS tracking to agricultural extension agents, with the objective of enhancing the government’s ability to monitor whether these agents cover their assigned ground and assist farmers on site to deliver technical extension and various information services. Through a staggered‐rollout design, we will also examine how the supervisors of these agents chose to allocate the phones within their teams, and whether this maximized the performance‐ enhancing effects of the technology. These findings will inform governmental decisions on whether to scale up the use of the GPS‐capable cell‐phone technology, as well as what administrative level should make allocative decisions on this technology.