Promotion, pay and productivity: Evidence from Sierra Leone


Published 25.01.23
Photo credit:
Direct Relief/flickr

Do meritocratic promotions increase worker productivity?

Read “Promotions and Productivity: The Role of Meritocracy and Pay Progression in the Public Sector” by Erika Deserranno, Philipp Kastrau, and Gianmarco León-Ciliotta here.

In this VoxDevTalk, Erika Deserranno outlines the key takeaways from research with Philipp Kastrau and Gianmarco Leon-Ciliotta based on a field experiment with the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone. Through this project, they explore the role of meritocracy and pay progression in motivating workers, and find that meritocratic promotions increase worker productivity – an effect driven by workers who expect a steep pay progression and who rank highly in terms of performance. However, when promotions are not meritocratic, increasing the pay gradient can have negative morale effects, thus highlighting the importance of considering the interactions between different, commonly used tools of personnel policy.

Editor's note: This paper was featured in STEG's Working Paper Series.