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Political incentives and policy outcomes: Who benefits from technology-enabled service centers?

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1 Author(s)
Bussell, J. ; Dept. of Political Sci., Univ. of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

This study investigates the causes of variation in government policies to use information and communication technologies to improve service delivery to citizens. I ask why state governments in India vary in the number and type of services they offer to citizens through technology-enabled citizen service centers. I argue that politicians estimate the expected electoral benefits from providing improved services to citizens and weigh these benefits against the costs of increased government transparency and associated reductions in corrupt income. Politicians then design service center policies to maximize their chances of retaining power. Because levels of corruption and the characteristics of electoral competition vary across the Indian states, we see related variations in technology policies. These variations in policy, and in particular the services made available to citizens, have important effects on who benefits from citizen service centers. I use evidence from sixteen Indian states to test these arguments, and show that the character of the ruling government and the level of state corruption are robust predictors of variation in state-level technology policies.

Published in:

Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), 2009 International Conference on

Date of Conference:

17-19 April 2009