Managerial Capital Within the Village

Principal Investigator

Stanford Graduate School of Business


Rachel Glennerster
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Edward Miguel
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Maarten Voors
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Research Locations Sierra Leone
Award Date October 2016
Award Type Faculty I-Award


Decades of unaccountable leadership, conflict and underdevelopment have left rural communities in Sierra Leone in charge of providing many basic public services—like primary education, water and sanitation—for themselves. Such services support the accumulation of human capital, which has direct impacts on poverty and is a key determinant of long run economic growth. When the government fails to provide these services, communities must adapt by leveraging their own resources and becoming entrepreneurial in seeking out external funds. This research project thus takes a private sector approach to the challenge of local development, and asks whether a light touch technocratic intervention—one that leverages local talent, addresses information barriers, and augments existing managerial capital with basic training in project management—might offer an innovative solution. Specifically, we will test whether identifying and supporting high competence community members helps them take better advantage of development opportunities offered on a competitive basis by local government. The research proposed here applies these ideas to micro-level public sector projects and asks two questions: i) is there untapped managerial capital present within rural communities that could be better leveraged; and ii) is it possible to effectively augment such managerial capital with basic training in project management skills?