Policy Decisions and Evidence Use among Civil Servants: A Group Decision Experiment in Pakistan

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 377

Laura Metzger, Theodore Svoronos, and Adnan Qadir Khan
April 2020


In a lab-in-field experiment with elite civil servants in Pakistan, we investigate whether groups outperform individuals in a two-staged task which requires effective use of data and evidence. We also study how efficiently groups harness their members’ individual knowledge for problem-solving. We do not find a significant difference in individual (first stage) and group performance (second stage). Yet, groups could have significantly improved their performance during the second stage of the task, had they more efficiently collaborated to retrieve their members’ respective knowledge. Carefully interpreted in the setting of our experiment, our data suggests that diversity in individual knowledge may hamper effective use of data and evidence for decision- making in small groups of policymakers.


Keywords: evidence-based policy, adult learning, group decisions, lab-in-field experiment, civil servants, Pakistan
JEL Classification: A29, C92, D37, D38, I28, I38
Affiliated Research Program: Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD)