Agency theory suggests that moral hazard in employer–employee contracting constrains firm profits. We use a randomized controlled trial to empirically evaluate how information and communication technologies (ICT) can mitigate moral hazard and enable firms to design more efficient contracts which increase profits and engender business growth. Specifically, we study a fleet of 255 minibuses (matatus) in Nairobi, Kenya, where we introduce monitoring devices that track real-time vehicle location, daily productivity, and safety statistics. We randomize whether minibus owners have access to these monitoring data using a novel mobile app. This information allows owners in the treatment group to observe a more precise signal of driver effort, the amount of revenue drivers collected in fares, and the extent to which the driver engages in reckless driving. We find that treated vehicle owners modify the terms of the contract by decreasing the rental price they demand. Drivers respond by working more hours, decreasing behavior that damages the vehicle, and under-reporting revenue by less. These changes improve firm profits and reduce management costs, thereby helping treated firms grow. The device also improves owners’ trust in their drivers, which drivers say makes their job easier. Finally, we investigate whether these gains to the company come at the expense of passenger safety, in an environment where accidents are common. While we do not find any evidence that conditions deteriorate, offering detailed information on driving behavior also does not improve safety. Only by incentivizing drivers through an additional cash treatment do we detect safety improvements.
Endogenous Learning Relationships and the Gains from Using Network Information to Maximize Technology Adoption - with Manzoor Dar, Kyle Emerick, Alain de Janvry and Elisabeth Sadoulet
Research In Progress
Labor Market Frictions in India - Evidence from a Job Platform - with Jeremy Magruder and Christopher Ksoll (Fieldwork complete)
Experimental Evidence on Consumer-side Discrimination - with Mathew Pecenco and Edward Rubin (In the field)
Do Skill Assessments Improve Hiring Outcomes for firms in India” - with Elizabeth Ramirez Ritchie (In the field)
Examining Protection Programs for Refugee Children in Bangladesh” - with Gregory Lane, John Loeser and Eric Mvukiyehe (Funded)