Targeting, Accountability and Capture in Development Projects

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Original Publication Date

May 6, 2013


Matthew S. Winters


International Studies Quarterly


If development projects are to be effective, a minimum requirement is that the funding reaches its intended destination. Yet the history of international development is replete with examples of this not happening. I argue that there will be fewer problems with corruption or other diversions of funding | which I jointly label capture | in more precisely targeted projects. More well-dened targeting results in superior accountability relationships because there is greater clarity of responsibility, clearer information about outcomes and improved identiability of stakeholders. I use an original cross-country, cross-project dataset on the incidence of capture in World Bank-funded investment projects to test the theory. The data show a negative relationship between targeting and capture, and I demonstrate that this relationship is robust to a variety of specifications. In addition, I find that there is a higher baseline likelihood of project capture in countries perceived as more corrupt according to commonly used survey-based measures from Transparency International and the Worldwide Governance Indicators, cross-validating those measures and my own.