Accountability and Motivation

2 Dec 2020  ·  Liqun Liu ·

We build a formal model that examines how different policymaking environments shape career-concerned officials' reform decisions and implementation. When career concerns are strong, officials will inefficiently initiate reforms to signal to the central government that they are congruent. To improve the quality of reform policymaking, the central government must hold officials accountable to policy outcomes. We demonstrate that the central government can exercise this accountability by requiring officials to publicize policy outcomes while maintain secrecy on implementation details. In this situation, officials can signal their congruence only through a desirable policy outcome, so they are highly motivated to carry out a reform well. We also demonstrate that the accountability on policy outcomes is infeasible under alternative policymaking environments. We apply the results to China's recent practice in decentralized reform policymaking.

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