Mission Driven Bureaucrats

Tuesday 8 March 2022 (13:00-14:30)

Convenor: Dr Kailing Xie

Dr Dan Honig

Dr Dan Honig  will be presenting on his current book manuscript, Mission Driven Bureaucrats (under contract, OUP).

Dan argues that for many developed and developing country public agencies better performance will be achieved not through a management focus on “Route X” monitoring and top-down control, but rather “Route Y” supportive management practice, autonomy, and employee empowerment. Drawing on large-N analysis of over 4 million observations across 2000 agencies and original qualitative and quantitative data from Bangladesh, Ghana, Liberia, Thailand, and the United States, Mission Driven Bureaucrats argues that a more supportive managerial approach can itself alter the motivation and action of current employees (treatment) and who enters and exits agencies (selection). Improving public welfare delivery may in many circumstances be best done not via more tracking systems, management by key performance indicators, or pay for performance schemes, but rather by supporting public servants in the exercise of their judgment, allowing the mission driven to carry out work they find meaningful.

Speaker's Bio

Dan Honig is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at University College London. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Governance, International Organization, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Oxford University Press (Navigation by Judgment, 2018), the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Third World Quarterly, and World Development, amongst other outlets. He’s a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development, a fellow of Harvard’s Building State Capability Program, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Public Policy. Dan has lived, worked (for NGOs, aid agencies, and developing country governments), and/or done research in Bangladesh, East Timor, Ghana, India, Israel, Liberia, The Netherlands, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Thailand, the UK, and the USA. In 2021 he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential academics in Government by Apolitical.


The IDD Guest Seminar Series brings scholars and practitioners working on international development to the University of Birmingham to share their latest research and ideas. All seminars are open to staff, students, and the general public. For details of other upcoming seminars please visit IDD's Eventbrite page and follow us on twitter @iddbirmingham. Speakers will present for 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes for audience Q&A.

Please register if you would like to attend. A Zoom link will be emailed to participants before the event.

This free event is open to all - staff, students, key stakeholders and members of the public.