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Testing Statebuilding's 'Missing Link': Effects of Government Communications in Colombia
- Journal Article
Research from developed countries indicates that improving how government communicates with the public can increase trust in government and satisfaction with public services. In countries affected by violent conflict, communication has even been described as the 'missing link' necessary to rebuild a positive relationship between citizen and state. Does this approach work? This paper presents a field experiment implemented in partnership with a Colombian government agency, to test two communication interventions in statebuilding areas. The results suggest limits to these programmes. One treatment - provision of information on service delivery via text messages - led to a reduction in satisfaction with services. For the second treatment - an invitation for citizens to vote on service provision priorities - we can detect no effect. We find evidence that people's prior beliefs are strong drivers of these results: both treatments had negative effects among people with low political interest and knowledge, suggesting that informational interventions may backfire among precisely the sub-populations that statebuilders seek to engage. Instead of improving perceptions of service delivery, they may have raised expectations among this otherwise apathetic population. Show more
Journal / seriesThe Journal of Development Studies
Pages / Article No.
PublisherROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
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