Using the Hawthorne effect to examine the gap between a doctor's best possible practice and actual performance
Journal of Development Economics
University of Maryland College Park, 2200 Symons Hall, MD 20742, United States; Centre for Educational Development in Health, Arusha (CEDHA), P.O. Box 1162, Arusha, Tanzania
Many doctors in developing countries provide considerably lower quality care to their patients than they have been trained to provide. The gap between best possible practice and actual performance (often referred to as the know-do gap) is difficult to measure among doctors who differ in levels of training and experience and who face very different types of patients. We exploit the Hawthorne effect-in which doctors change their behavior when a researcher comes to observe their practices-to measure the gap between best and actual performance. We analyze this gap for a sample of doctors and also examine the impact of the organization for which doctors work on their performance. We find that some organizations succeed in motivating doctors to work at levels of performance that are close to their best possible practice. This paper adds to recent evidence that motivation can be as important to health care quality as training and knowledge. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
developing world; health care; health worker; performance assessment; training; Tanzania