Theses Doctoral

Essays in Political Economy

Saluja, Arpita

This dissertation consists of three essays in the field of organizational economics and political economy.

The first essay examines the question of mentoring and training in public sector organizations. On the job training is one of the most effective ways of improving productivity. However, managers face a trade-off when allocating time between their own outputproduction and mentoring the juniors, as mentoring takes time that managers could spend on other output production activities. Using the data on bureaucrats from the India Civil Services, I provide evidence of this trade-off. I find that junior bureaucrats in India show better performance in the district training courses when their mentors’ output is imperfectly observed by the supervisors of the mentors. I infer this difference in the performance of junior bureaucrats as an indication of differences in the mentoring efforts of the seniors. I exploit a policy reform to further show that bureaucrats are multi-tasking agents allocating time between mentoring junior bureaucrats and public service delivery. I find evidence that the reform that was introduced to bring greater transparency in the performance evaluation process shifts effort from mentoring to own output production, thereby reducing gaps in mentoring efforts. Overall, this chapter highlights the existence of perverse incentives for mentors that can affect the effectiveness of training and mentoring initiatives.

The second chapter focuses on the question of distributive politics and how politicians target resources among their constituents. Using the employment data from the largest workfare program in the world, I study how employment generated under the program varies across constituencies that are represented by politicians from the ruling party. Using a close election regression discontinuity framework, I find that employment is higher in constituencies with ruling
party politicians. Further, I document targeted flow of program benefits to specific marginalized groups.

In the final chapter of this dissertation, I examine the politicization of bureaucratic appointments in India. Using data from two states of the country, I study appointments to the post of the district collector. I document significant differences in the characteristics of the officers that get appointed to districts with a greater proportion of politicians from the ruling party. I find that districts with greater "alignment" to the ruling party get younger officers who have been recruited through a much more rigorous exam and are less likely to be a native of the state. I find no evidence that caste plays a role in these appointments.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Saluja_columbia_0054D_17834.pdf Saluja_columbia_0054D_17834.pdf application/pdf 110 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Naidu, Suresh
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2023